Demo-2, the name of the mission to test the first commercial orbital human spaceflight, was deemed a historic success when the aircraft safely returned from its visit to the International Space Station to its droneship in Port Canaveral. Critical data collected from the mission will be used to help certify SpaceX’s crew transportation system for regular commercial flights to the ISS.
Of course, there’s a lot that goes on behind-the-scenes. At an undisclosed facility in Florida, RapidAir compressed air products play a small part in SpaceX’s ambitious mission.
SpaceX is among RapidAir’s most notable customers. While Facility Supervisor Mark Sexton confirms the company is a frequent customer of RapidAir, exactly how the products are used at the industrial facility remains super confidential. Still, it’s public knowledge the company designs and manufactures advanced rockets and spacecraft, so it’s not a stretch to say compressed air power tools are involved.
Sexton says SpaceX regularly purchases both the FastPipe modular aluminum compressed air piping and MaxLine semi-flexible air tubing for the fast-paced facility. In some weeks, the intrepid company places orders three times a week.
“We really love the speed of installation of RapidAir products,” Sexton says. “Everything we do needs to be done yesterday.”
Besides installation being a breeze, Sexton says the ability to rapidly quote and order products is a huge benefit of working with RapidAir. Having the ability to send in a hand-drawn sketch and talk to an expert to make sure he has all the right parts makes his job all that much easier, he adds.
Sexton says RapidAir’s compressed air line systems aren’t just functional — their aesthetic also plays right into SpaceX’s “cool factor,” something the company takes pride in at their high-tech and futuristic industrial facility.
“We have so much [RapidAir] now, that we really want to keep everything in unison,” he says. “If you’ve got blue pipe everywhere, it doesn’t look right to put up anything black. It helps us keep everything nice and tidy, and adds to the decor.”
As SpaceX continues to reach new heights within the space industry, Sexton says the company doesn’t plan on slowing down anytime soon — or compromise on who they use to power their compressed air systems.
“We’ve got three orders out to RapidAir, this week,” he says. “If I put in an order, they are always on top of it. They’ve been awesome to us.”
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