Where does AI exactly come to play in SpaceX’s day-to-day operations and on rockets?
Space travel has entered another period. However, government organizations, for example, NASA and Roscosmos were liable for fostering the underlying innovation expected to fly people into space, privately owned businesses, for example, SpaceX is currently initiating the improvement of the next generation of reusable space shuttles (as well as assembling an assortment of other space-bound equipment such as satellites). However, even as the business space race has barely started, SpaceX has arisen in front of the opposition, landing a US$2.9 billion contract with NASA to build a moon lander. This follows a US$7 billion agreement with NASA to ship supplies to and from the International Space Station settled in 2020. At the heart of SpaceX’s success lies data. From planning a vehicle that will endure the cruel states of room to working out payload size, information is filling the following influx of space travel.
AI-Powered Space Travel
Similar to modern airplanes, SpaceX utilizes an Artificial Intelligence fueled autopilot program to explore them securely from send-off to the ISS docking port. According to Community AI, Artificial Intelligence works by ascertaining parabolic flight, fuel utilization and reserves, liquid engine sloshing, weather, and a number of other factors that can impact the flight. Artificial Intelligence uses this information to establish the safest as well as the fastest flight path. Once the ship has reached its destination, the autopilot uses convex optimization algorithms and computer vision to determine the best landing spot for the Dragon capsule.
However subtleties on this specific task are meager, SpaceX’s emergency abort system also utilizes AI to - in case of a catastrophic event - disengage the shuttle from the rocket and securely guide space explorers back to earth.
Like the Dragon, SpaceX’s shuttle, its satellites also use AI to guide through space debris and travel to and from the earth. Notwithstanding its success, SpaceX’s automated system for avoiding satellite crashes has ignited discussion. In the past 2-3 years, SpaceX’s Starlink satellites have had a number of close calls, almost crashing into other satellites. In addition, its competitors say they have no way of knowing which way the system will move a Starlink satellite in the event of a close approach, making collision avoidance on their end nearly impossible.
What makes SpaceX so unique though?
What makes them different than their government rivals like NASA? SpaceX combines modern, cutting edge technology such as AI into their rocket’s capabilities and expands upon what hasn’t changed in the space industry for half a century. SpaceX, which operates out of Hawthorne, California sets its own self-imposed deadlines and has an aggressive work schedule, while also being able to launch its rockets time in and time out since they are a private organization and don’t have government-imposed guidelines or restrictions (besides flying a safe rocket).
Since the inauguration of SpaceX, the company has accomplished a reusable and self-landing booster section of its rockets. This allows them to keep costs at a minimum since they are able to use their manufacturing less often. Typical space travel organizations discard their rocket after the flight, costing billions of dollars every time this happens.
SpaceX is also credited with the world’s most powerful rocket fuel and engines. The Falcon 9, Falcon Heavy, and Starship use liquid oxygen, refined kerosene, and other novel chemical compounds or reactions in order to create 5 million pounds of thrust at lift-off.
Additionally, they have near perfected the desirable sci-fi movie capsule for payloads for humans or cargo. The Dragon has made 20 ISS flights and resupply missions combined and is capable of holding 7 passengers. The Dragon capsule combines state-of-the-art modern architecture techniques in order to create a sleek interior design that feels like a luxury vehicle. They have also revamped the controls from the many buttons, switches, and control pads in standard industrial rockets to touch screens with controls simple to use, just like playing a mobile game on an iPad.
Is Space Data the New Big Data?
The most revolutionary, or perhaps prescient, data-related undertaking SpaceX is currently involved with is its collection of space data. Space data – a.k.a. big data from space – is a term used to describe the camera and sensor information gathered by space-borne monitoring equipment (satellites) and the process of extrapolating patterns using analytical software. As the commercialization of space becomes a reality, space data and analytics will become increasingly valuable.
NASA is getting ready to send astronauts to explore more of the Moon as part of the Artemis program, and the agency has selected SpaceX to continue the development of the first commercial human lander that will safely carry the next two American astronauts to the lunar surface. At least one of those astronauts will make history as the first woman on the Moon. Another goal of the Artemis program includes landing the first person of color on the lunar surface.
The agency’s powerful Space Launch System rocket will launch four astronauts aboard the Orion spacecraft for their multi-day journey to lunar orbit. There, two crew members will transfer to the SpaceX human landing system (HLS) for the final leg of their journey to the surface of the Moon. After approximately a week of exploring the surface, they will board the lander for their short trip back to orbit where they will return to Orion and their colleagues before heading back to Earth.
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