Rocket company SpaceX, under the leadership of Tesla founder Elon Musk, is looking hire up to 1,000 employees for its Seattle-based engineering office whose mission will be to build a commercial satellite business that will eventually pave the way for sending spacecrafts to Mars. And while many are happy about the boost in the local economy, some are left wondering whether a change in careers may bring them closer to a future on Mars?
SpaceX already offers the use of its Falcon 9 rockets to international customers for satellite deployment into orbit, but was forced to sue the U.S. Air Force for supposedly holding an "illegal monopoly" on satellite launches paid for by the U.S. government.
Musk's private space firm also already conducts resupply missions to the International Space Station for NASA, which included a cargo run just last week giving SpaceX a chance to further test their reusable Falcon 9 rocket technology. But according to Bloomberg, SpaceX wants even more space business from the U.S. government, namely a chance to bid for "the $70 billion the Pentagon may spend on satellite launches through 2030."
Seeking more than just a mere cash prize, Musk believes that launching many of these satellites "will play a crucial role in [his] efforts to reach his ultimate goal of establishing a human settlement on Mars."
SpaceX is currently headquartered in Hawthorne, California and maintains testing facilities for its rockets and Dragon capsules in Texas, but the new Seattle office would be where the company would developits long-term plans to build a colony on Mars in the decades to come.
Musk has been vocal in recent years about his ambitions towards Mars and first began promoting the idea of a Mars colony in 2012. More recently, he has promised more details about a Mars transport system "towards the end of this year."
"Good thing we didn't do it sooner, as we have learned a huge amount from Falcon and Dragon," Musk said, referring to the reusable rocket tests SpaceX has been conducting in its ISS resupply missions and other commercial space operations.
SpaceX is banking on its reusable rocket technology to significantly reduce the costs of space flight and decrease the time between launches. And in the most recent test, the company managed to land its rocket on a barge floating in the Atlantic, but the rocket landed too hard to be salvageable. Musk took to Twitter to discuss it saying, "Rocket made it to drone spaceport ship, but landed hard. Close, but no cigar this time. Bodes well for the future though."
In his interview with Bloomberg, Musk commented on his hope for the next launch. "If we had not run short of hydraulic fluid we would have actually landed," Musk said. "So for the next flight we've got 50 percent more hydraulic fluid margins. We've got a real decent chance in about three weeks."