I read the following (link):

Another time, Musk had an issue with a vendor [...] . The issue was that they were going Russian on him. "We got a big increase from the vendor after the first units were delivered," says Mark Juncosa, SpaceX's lead structural engineer. "It was like a painter who paints half your house for one price, then wants three times that for the rest. [...]

[...] Juncosa walks in to tell him that Alcoa is going Russian on him. The problem is that the domes are made of aluminum, and Alcoa has a special machine for making the aluminum SpaceX needs. They're the only ones who have it, they spent a lot of money on it, and now they want to make SpaceX pay for it....


[...] he listens to Juncosa tell him that he's found a way to go around Alcoa, involving smaller pieces of aluminum. "Maybe," Musk says.

So how did this end? Is SpaceX going arround Alcoa, involving smaller pieces of aluminum? How exactly? Or do they simply pay Alcoa what Alcoa demands?

  • $\begingroup$ "Supplier X is putting the squeeze on me" does not seem a very spacy question. The link is interesting reading though. $\endgroup$
    – Hennes
    Aug 24, 2016 at 7:34
  • $\begingroup$ Is there a better news source for this story then "Esquire" magazine? I mean that's hardly cutting edge tech news in my opinion. $\endgroup$
    – Andy
    Aug 24, 2016 at 8:14
  • $\begingroup$ It's an interview with Musk. How much better source do you need? $\endgroup$
    – Hobbes
    Aug 24, 2016 at 11:43

1 Answer 1


In 2014, 2 years after that interview took place, SpaceX still got aluminium-lithium alloys from Alcoa.
But they also have another supplier, Constellium:

SpaceX has since developed a heavy-payload launcher called Falcon 9, which uses AIRWARE® technology extensively for structural components. Its first flight took place in 2010. Almost the entire first and second stages of the launcher are made from our (Constellium's, ed.) materials, with longitudinal seams on both the launcher and Dragon space vehicle joined by Friction Stir Welding. The same welding process is used to weld domes made from our AIRWARE® 2195 and 2219 alloys to the barrel sections. The domes are manufactured by spin forming.

So it appears SpaceX found another supplier for the material for the tank domes.

  • $\begingroup$ What about the "involving smaller pieces of aluminum" bit of the quote? Until now it just seems as if SpaceX now orders at two suppliers but there is now "cool" or "out-of-the-box" Elon style solution. A bit of a let-down really. $\endgroup$
    – Gulango
    Aug 29, 2016 at 10:16

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