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Forget Dragon, the Falcon 9 rocket is the secret sauce of SpaceX’s success (arstechnica.com)
22 points by feross 30 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 6 comments

Shotwell is the secret sauce. I’m glad Elon’s contribution is limited to blowing up Starships.

Here's an interview with Tom Mueller (design lead on the Merlin engine, and SpaceX's chief of propulsion from inception until he semi-retired a few years ago), talking about working with Elon. The most relevant anecdote is Elon demanding he find a way to get rid of some large and expensive valves -- which Mueller initially thought impractical, but he tried anyway at the boss's insistence, and wound up with a much cheaper, lighter, more reliable engine he was really pleased with. Elon didn't do all the detail work necessary to make that happen, and perhaps he couldn't (there's a reason he keeps paying everyone else), but it's odd to deny he has a role in the process.


It's quite clear that Musk's contributions extend past blowing things up, but I do agree that Shotwell is a significant contributor to the company's success and a steady hand that deserves more mention in articles like this.

May I recommend a great article by Paul Graham?


The anecdotes mentioned in the article are pure Elon. A "steady hand" would never have launched with a blow dried antenna or a hand trimmed vacuum bell skirt.

The article clearly shows that Musk put in significant contributions to the effort

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