Who is the client:

SpaceX needed an aerospace finishing system for this Hawthorne, CA facility.

What is the challenge:

When the team at SpaceX came to RelyOn Technologies, they brought with them a unique set of requirements and challenges. To build the first rocket factory spray booth that would allow for a 128’ rocket barrel to be coated in 20’ sections, while additional 20’ sections were being welded in line to the length from an automatic circular welding machine. The paint booth had to be as close to the welding machine as possible and still remain code compliant.

Upon completion of the 128’ rocket, the whole unit would then need to be lifted up and set forward onto another set of tracks to make room for another rocket to begin production. This operation would require building a unique freestanding, one-walled spray booth that would allow for spray and heated dry cycles, as well as ensure full air circulation around the 12’ diameter rocket shell.

The ambitious of this project took a room full of “rocket scientists” as well as two “spray booth experts” to devise a machine that would fit all their needs. SpaceX’s aspirations of building the world’s first commercial production rocket finishing line combined with RelyOn’s and GARMAT USA’s experience in building custom spray booths led to the first ever, single wall rocket booth.

What is the “RelyOn” solution:

To build a single-walled freestanding semi downflow spray booth with remote exhaust fans, and then tunnel and duct 130’ away to exhaust through a 60’ high roof, and still remain code compliant.

The booth had to be engineered to allow for a 12’ diameter rocket barrel to transfer from one set of rail tracks to another, without any tie-in to the above ceiling.

RelyOn collaborated with the engineers from GARMAT USA and turned the client’s needs into a reality. Our solution was rather than to build a traditional spray booth tunnel with two sets of walls, we would build the booth with only one rear wall, and 3 custom roll up curtains that would allow for a semi-downdraft spraying environment.

The next challenge was to engineer how to support 6 tons of roof structure on the single rear wall. For this,Californiastructural engineers were brought in to review the design concept and engineer the structure. 20’ steel piers were sunk into the ground with 25’ x 36” diameter concrete footings to support them. A 5% pitch was designed into the cantilevered roof to allow for deflection to level for the overall structure..

Due to the clearance required by existing overhead cranes, the exhaust duct could not be ducted straight up. Rather, 48’ tunnels were installed from the booth to an area that could be ducted, then oversize ducts were installed offset 30’ and through the 60’ tall roof. Upon completion and adjustment, air flow was perfectly balanced.

Finally, the burners needed to meet South Coast AQMD’s new requirements for Low Nox burners (less than 30 ppm). Upon field analysis and testing, the units out performed the limits, and were rated below this specification.

Through the whole process, RelyOn handled all aspects of the engineering, permitting, monitored the manufacturing of the booth, and completed the final installation on time and on budget. Our installation was seamless, and, according to the “rocket scientists”, out-performed all their expectations.

Once the final custom SpaceX Falcon 9 logo curtain rolled down seamlessly from its landing, and the first rocket barrel was rolled into the paint booth for its aerospace coat of white paint, the installation was deemed complete.

What makes us different from other competitors?

SpaceX entrusted RelyOn Technologies (and its 35 years of experience) with this project to design and build a finishing system for aerospace. When there is a unique set of circumstances that a client may have, with RelyOn its not a matter of “if we can do it”, it becomes a matter of “when do you need it by?” Only a company with years of successful custom installations can make a bold statement like this. And every day, no matter who the client is, RelyOn Technologies continues to provide equipment and installations that are in a class of their own.