Space Exploration Technologies Corporation: SpaceX
Published: Wednesday, May 23, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, May 23, 2012 18:05
Remember when you were young and you were told of those magical ships that blast off from a launch pad, break the sound barrier and send an astronaut into low earth orbit? Remember when the Space Shuttle was a common part of life, and no one thought that the idea of humans in a vacuum-sealed can floating around the earth was insane?
Can you remember a time where men went to the moon because the government thought it would be nice to advance science in order to beat the communist menace?
Well, those days are over. With the Space Shuttle now making its less-than-dignified journey to museums across the nation, strapped to special NASA 747s, it begs the question, “So now what, USA? Where has your mighty space program gone?”
The government’s space program is currently lost in bureaucratic paperwork and long-term development procedures that probably will not produce a usable spacecraft until 2020. So that’s it? USA has given up on space? Maybe the government has, but one company has not. Enter SpaceX.
You may have heard this name in the news as of late. They are currently the only commercial company to have built, launched, orbited and returned a spacecraft to earth. That is right, no NASA (well, they helped), no government (they also sort of helped), but good old fashioned American corporations getting it done.
Right now, we have men and women in space. Aboard the International Space Station, humans live and work to advance science. With the shuttle gone, the only option to shuttle people back and forth between earth is the Russian Soyuz capsule.
I would like to go back in time and tell America that in the future, not only do we stop making spacecraft, but we use Russia’s. This is very ironic ,considering that the main reason the United States even focused on space exploration at all was because the Russians did it first. Way to go.
Space Exploration Technologies Corporation, or SpaceX, aims to be the primary provider of “spacely” services for the near future, as far as the US domestic market is concerned.
However, their launch manifest posted on their website shows some contract work for other countries as well. So far, they have had many successful tests, and a successful full launch, orbit, and retrieval of their flagship program “Dragon.” With a price tag roughly 1/10 the cost of a shuttle launch, they are able to save big government dollars.
The Dragon capsule will be the main craft used in operations. Saturday, May 19 showed promise as a historical event: the first practical launch of the Dragon spacecraft. It was to travel to the ISS and deliver supplies. This would be a landmark achievement, and pave the way for commercial space travel as a new and exciting industry.
Just one problem: the rocket did not launch. Three seconds before T minus zero, the auto abort was triggered, reportedly from a faulty pressure reading component. The part is to be swapped with a working one, and the launch is to be reset for this week.
SpaceX not only shows promise as an industry leader of space technology, but hopefully gets the ball rolling for other companies to start dabbling with space. With the economy and overpopulation problems as they currently are, the answers may lie outside the bounds of our human sanctuary.
It is time to expand! Bring on the sci-fi world that I was promised in Back to the Future. We will be waiting.