What life has been like for one engineer who works at SpaceX.

Please consider donating to Behind the Black, by giving either a one-time contribution or a regular subscription, as outlined in the tip jar below. Your support will allow me to continue covering science and culture as I have for the past twenty years, independent and free from any outside influence.


Regular readers can support Behind The Black with a contribution via paypal:

Or with a subscription with regular donations from your Paypal or credit card account:


If Paypal doesn't work for you, you can support Behind The Black directly by sending your donation by check, payable to Robert Zimmerman, to
Behind The Black
c/o Robert Zimmerman
P.O.Box 1262
Cortaro, AZ 85652

What life has been like for one engineer who works at SpaceX.

Key quote:

According to Pearce, the best and the worst things about working for Musk are actually the same. “He doesn’t feel the need to make reasonable requests,” Pearce says. “The whole idea of SpaceX is not reasonable. The idea that a dot-com millionaire could take [US] $100 million and start a rocket company that within 13 years would be taking supplies to the International Space Station, that’s on track to take crew to the International Space Station — that’s not reasonable.”

But SpaceX did it.



  • Challenging the dominant superpower of the day to establish a new nation wasn’t reasonable – but it got done.

    Building a railroad across a largely unexplored continent wasn’t reasonable – but it got done.

    It wasn’t reasonable for two bicycle mechanics to build and fly the first airplane – but it got done.

    Going from suborbital flight to the Moon in less than ten years wasn’t reasonable – but it got done.

    Successfully challenging convention is what Americans do.

    Mr. Musk is clearly a practitioner of the Third Rule of Management: People work to expectations. And he’s very much put his money where his mouth is: that level of commitment can’t be ignored by those in his employ. I can’t imagine a space – oriented person outside of pure science considering work in anything but private space.

  • Coming from a published author, your compliment means much to me. Thank you.

  • wade

    SpaceX is cracking the boundaries of the unknown while accomplishing solid engineering developments. The Falcon Heavy Lift is very exciting.

  • joe

    Money means something to Mr. Musk, money is not even thought about at Nasa, cost overruns are the norm, inflated cost studies are the norm, and indeed, people do work to expectations. NASA was a wonder through the Kennedy and Nixon years that got things done but have turned into nothing more than a bloated overstaffed bureaucracy that enriches contractors and gets nothing done, Robert is right, private space is the United States way forward to space as long as this new breed of space entreprenuers want to earn a buck.

  • Edward

    In his book “Road to Freedom,” Arthur Brooks describes that entrepreneurs, when asked about their successes, tend to talk about their failures and hardships. We Americans take failures, hardships, and unreasonable expectations (impossible tasks) as challenges, not impossibilities. Sometimes we succeed spectacularly.

    I would add to that list:

    Building the “impossible” Golden Gate Bridge.

    Building the Panama Canal (which France found to be impossible)

    California wines besting the world’s best wines, French wines, in 1976. (Nobody remembers that, but America’s freedoms allowed us to improve our wines, but the French tried to keep their wines the world’s best by forbidding change.)

    Building that ‘dominant superpower of the day’ in three centuries from (literally) a backwoods settlement — which couldn’t feed itself — to a power that won WWI, then WWII, then the “cold war.”

    No wonder America has a can-do spirit. No wonder we celebrate American Exceptionalism. No wonder Musk came to America — to succeed spectacularly.

  • The key to the success of the United States is the forgotten word, which only makes us exceptional in that we were the first nation to explicitly celebrate it in law and culture. If we abandon it, however, our exceptionalism will evaporate as quickly as the morning dew.

  • joe

    American exceptionalism? the progressives are running us away from that quaint notion!

  • Did you read my essay on what makes us exceptional? Once you know what causes the exceptionalism, you will understand a great deal more about what motivates the left.

  • joe

    Yes, I read your excellent essay on freedom and what makes this country exceptional, I take no issue with the fact that freedom was built into our constitution, but our leaders are not protecting this freedom, eventually this spirit of innovation will leave for a more friendly atmosphere, the American people who are voting in these progressives are looking at the short view, the long view is that we are an Roman empire on the verge of a collapse.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *