The real reason why Elon Musk built reusable rockets


This is a work of fiction, or to rephrase it better, a work of my subconscious mind. It might seem a little different from my previous blog posts about my dreams, since I have reordered certain scenes, as I felt that makes better sense for the complete story.


Scene 1

I was at the SpaceX rocket building site, observing how the rockets were built. Multiple rockets were being built, some kept in storage, and quick paced work was pogressing, scattered across the site.

While I was standing there admiring the build process, Elon Musk was casually walking over the construction site, as he used to do regularly, observing and evaluating the progress. He came to me asking, how I’m doing and then we went on to discuss a lot about rockets and the reusability and his plans to colonize mars.

Scene 2

I asked him how the idea of reusability came to his mind. He stated, for that you have to go around 20 years back, when NASA was using solid fuel engines for rockets. … Going back to those days, he told me that there are some undisclosed stories and events that had happened during each launch that they still keep confidential. He went on and explained this:

Rough sketch of Agena rocket motor

At that time, NASA used a rocket engine called Agena which had the above engine structure. For the engine to start correctly, to get the maximum thrust at liftoff, 9 accurately calculated firings have to be made at the launch time; which means, starting at the engine centre, as the fuel reaches the next stage, another fire had to be triggered and so on in the spiral structure.

But the problem here was that, there were no computers that could perform this calculation and the firing had to be done from within the engine. The next part that he described sent chills down my spine. To perform this firing, one man was assigned for every launch, who has to trigger the firing from beneath the engine. But the 9th firing event was almost seconds before the engine goes full power, that the man who fires never gets the chance to run away, before the hot gases and exhaust rushes out the engine nozzle. This was like getting hit with pyrotechnic on your body, but with a force million times more powerful. So, the person standing there was incinerated in seconds in the exhaust, and NASA kept this a secret. So for every launch from the ground, one man had to be sacrficed. This man was named as an effigy in NASA books.

Scene 3

Hearing this I was a bit frightened. Elon said that because of this, he wanted to invent new rocket engines that were reusable and could be started remotely. Then he turned to me and asked me about my career, and what I was doing. I told him that I was working as a software engineer. He asked me which are the top 10 companies that I would like to work for and I told him Tesla was my dream. He mocked me, saying that, since he is the CEO, any one will say that in front of him and laughed about it. Then at number 2 , I mentioned Google, then Redhat etc.. and the last one I mentioned was Netgear. He seemed a little puzzled, then. He took out a little projector, and took us into a 3D simulation of a netgear office. It had multiple cubicles and some people working on their desks. He said, if this is the type of company that you would like to work for, then you are not worthy of Tesla. My dreams of working for Tesla were shattered instantly.

Scene 4

We were still walking around the rocket factory when I asked him, how he knew about the agena engines and the effigy that was burnt to death. He told me that he was one such man chosen for that mission. After firing the engines, he tried to run away. But something strange happened that day, as per his statement, the spirits of the previous effigies, that died at the launch pad, helped him escape. He said he could feel that someone was taking him far away from the launch pad. He had suffered third degree burns on his body(I could literally feel the pain in my body, during the dream), but recovered after many years and went onto start SpaceX.

I was amazed by this story.

Scene 5

By then, we had reached the main assembly area of the rocket, where multiple parts where being assembled. I went inside and took some design papers for the rocket that was lying around and ran away. I was a Russian spy sent to steal the designs of SpaceX rockets. While I was running away I could smell radioactive sodium on my body and slowly my stamina started to lower, I was gradually collapsing on to the ground. My eyes and nose slowly started to bleed and I was lying on the ground, unable to move. . .