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Rocket Scientist Steve Davis

Boston native Steve Davis is a key member of the SpaceX team that made history earlier this year by becoming the first private company to fly to the International Space Station. The California-based company reached another milestone this month by successfully launching its first cargo supply mission to the orbiting lab on behalf of NASA. After joining SpaceX as its fourteenth employee, Davis moved to Washington, where he became its director of advanced projects and discovered a new passion. The 33-year old rocket scientist-turned entrepreneur shares his story in this profile, produced by Michael Lipin.

"Liftoff of the Falcon 9 ... Falcon 9 has cleared the tower."

My name is Steve Davis and I'm an engineer at SpaceX.

I actually started there in 2003 on our first vehicle which was called the Falcon 1.

My personal role at the time was to work on the guidance navigation and control system, which is a fancy way of saying, make sure the rocket goes straight when it takes off.

Imagine balancing a pencil on your finger and kind of going like this.
That's pretty much what happens.
The rocket is a long pencil and it's going to keep getting hit by wind and other things. You have to make sure that when it gets hit by those, it keeps going the right way.

"Capture is confirmed."

Getting Falcon 9 up into orbit and Dragon to the space station -- that was a complicated mission and we did it the first time, which is an amazing accomplishment.

What I want is for SpaceX and hopefully other companies, to succeed in building a rocket which is fully and rapidly reusable.

The second that happens, the cost really comes down, and when the cost really comes down, you or I could suddenly afford a rocket and possibly get to go into space and enjoy that.

"How are you guys doing? Do you guys need any samples or anything today?"

We're at Mr. Yogato, my favorite frozen yogurt store in Washington DC. And I am the owner of said store.

A bunch of my friends were involved in starting the store, so we just had brainstorms constantly.

"These right here are the original eight rules of Yogato."

"The stamp on the forehead is done pretty often."

"Here's the trivia - you get it right, you get a discount. [Get it] wrong, the price goes up."

I like to do something new about every six to nine months and a lot of them fail. There's a Mr. Yogato in DC, there's one in Baltimore. I also, with a friend, opened one in Jacksonville, and that went out of business, which is unfortunate. But you know, a lot of businesses do.

"And you said strawberries, Mr. Lipin?"

SpaceX is what I love in life. And all the other projects are really fun and just make me really happy. But like I said, my primary goal is getting into space and I'll keep working toward that.