Eighteen years ago, Elon Musk started planning for a program that would help to accelerate humanity’s thrust towards the stars. While it seemed like a fanciful thought back then, yesterday’s joint effort between Musk’s SpaceX and NASA shows that public-private partnerships may be the right way to fuel innovation. This advancement is a significant step, because it demonstrates recovery of the US Space Program, long left fallow by successive governments. Musk aims to land humans on Mars within the next five years.
Nine Years Since Our Last Space Foray
The US Space Program, despite their history of “firsts,” has cooled down significantly since the close of the Cold War (and by extension, the Space Race). For perspective, it’s been nine years since the US sent a shuttle into space carrying passengers before the historic launch of the Crew Dragon craft atop the Falcon 9 rocket. The Falcon 9 is a solution to one of space travel’s biggest problems — the cost of a disposable rocket booster. Falcon 9’s re-usability makes it perfect for multiple launches, ensuring that the company can spread the cost out over several commercial spaceflights. The company stands to benefit by offering affordable space travel to the average individual.
Good and Bad News
SpaceX still has a few kinks to work out in its rocketry despite the elation of launching the first human-crewed flight to space from the earth in over nine years. SpaceX lost one of their prototype Starship rockets in an explosion on the pad on the 29th. The success of the Crew Dragon/Falcon 9 seems like a justification for their efforts. SpaceX has announced that the Starship rocket is their intended machinery to get to Mars. Whether their dream of Mars flight will become a reality remains to be seen.