What About SpaceX?
If we were to survive the ill-effects global warming and climate change, then, in my opinion, we should start a finding a way to be a space-faring species to avoid extinction. Elon Musk knew this and that’s why he founded SpaceX in 2002 with the mission of sending humans to mars, and beyond. But, with the current technology, it is not sustainable for us to populate mars with the limited amount of resources we have on earth.
Traditionally, after each launch, rockets were programmed to dump in ocean. But, SpaceX didn’t conform with this idea and designed Falcon series of aerospace vehicles with the aim of reusability. After each launch, instead of getting dumped, the rocket launchers will be back to their designated launch pads. Imagine, if one launch costs $60M and those launchers are used 1000 times, then each launch will only cost $60k.
Despite the benefits of having such technology, SpaceX faced a great deal of disparagement from the Rocket Scientists around the world, because their idea was simply “not feasible”. Yet, on February 6th, 2018, SpaceX launched maiden flight of Falcon Heavy – the most powerful reusable rockets so far – that landed back after launching the payload in the space.
In this visualization, I created a timeline of the micro-events that took placed between lift off to launchers landing back.
And, along with re-living those historic moments, the timeline was created to provoke a couple of questions/ideas, written below:
1) How can we approach the space travel with alternative solutions? Through wormholes? Through mental teleportation? Or… ? Let’s start brainstorming the possibilities.
2) Musk and SpaceX have demonstrated to us that we can choose to live an extra-ordinary life. Let’s ruminate, if the society’s conventions and traditions are worth to mindlessly live by, that might suppresses our true potential?
Planning & Process
Initially, I brainstormed many ideas from visualizing a brief history of the wars of 21st century to a speculative timeline go technological advancement for the next 50 years. And, interstellar travel was one of the advancements, I could envision for the next 50 years. But, then I realized, then why would I not depict the timeline for the historic launch of reusable rockets by SpaceX.
Also, February 6th, 2021 marks 3 year of Falcon Heavy launch, so I believed it would the best if I could take you all to re-live that moment again. I started researching about the Falcon Heavy project on its website SpaceX, documentary “Mars: Inside SpaceX”, and space news websites like Space Flight Now. I also watched Musk’s talk on Main Life Multiplanetary in 2017, which made me peek into the vision of SpaceX through Falcon aerospace vehicles. And, in the end, I collected the timeline of events from Falcon Heavy’s information on Wikipedia.
Initially, I sketched on a couple of visualization ideas on paper. It gave me an opportunity to explore possible designs for depicting the timeline. Eventually I settled for a TimelineJS – open-source platform created by the Knight Lab – to make user-controlled-and-centered timeline.
The website of TimelineJS has laid out precise steps on creating the visualization. First, I imported all the data to the Google Sheet template provided by TimelineJS. Each row depicts one event of the timeline. Besides being able to feed the date, month, year of the events, in my case, the whole timeline was made of events that were separated by a minutes and seconds. After filling all the desired data, I published the sheet on the web and then copy and pasted the main URL of the sheet to the section in “Generating the Timeline” on the TimelineJS website.
And, then finally I implemented visualization for the launch events.
Instead of showing the time, I wanted to fragment events according to their countdown time “T minus/plus XYZ”. But, I could not show any other time format but 24-hour clock:
The whole event took place on one day. So, I tried to omit repetitiveness of the date display on each slide. But, again, TimelineJS threw me errors that I must dates for each slide:
Traditionally, I have seen timelines that took place over the course of years, decades, and centuries. But, in my case the only thing I could separate events by is fragmenting events over the course of seconds and minutes. So, it was pretty fulfilling for me to have a tool like TimelineJS that provided me such flexibility. The primary goal of this exercise was achieved by creating an interactive timeline where users are in control by TimelineJS.
- Citing the limitations, I would like to design a custom visualization using Sketch and make it interactive using JS-based tool – Framer.
- With that, I would like to leave you with a photo of Musk, below, inaugurating launchpad for the Falcon vehicles in 2013. You could see the replica of Falcon Heavy in the picture. It tells me, what you could see through your eyes, the nature will transpire for you to make it reality. So, why to dream small!
2) Mars: Inside SpaceX – Documentary Movie on Disney
3) Falcon 9: Wikipedia information for the predecessor of Falcon Heavy
4) Falcon Heavy: Wikipedia information
5) Space Flight Now – Leading Space News Website
6) Making Humans Interplanetary Species – SpaceX Event talk on Youtube
7) Elon Musk: Mars Society Convention – Podcast on Youtube
8) The Future We Are Building: Ted Interview on Youtube