The historic launch of SpaceX craft Falcon Heavy on February 6th, 2018 will surely be remembered as a turning point in human space exploration and travel. For those who may not know, Space Exploration Technologies Corporation (SpaceX), created by Tesla founder and resident eccentric Elon Musk, recently and successfully launched their newest rocket-Falcon Heavy to great admiration from people and countries around the world.
What makes this launch markedly different from previous ones by NASA and other government agencies in years past, is that it was funded and accomplished fully by a private enterprise. Not only can SpaceX brag about the specs of their new craft, (with Falcon Heavy being the most powerful rocket in use, with reusable boosters) but also the comparatively small cost of the launch at only 90 million dollars. To bring this price point into perspective, NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS), which is currently slated to finish development near the end of this year, will launch at a staggering one billion dollars per flight.
Some have questioned Musk’s decision to launch the rocket, claiming it as little more than a publicity stunt. I believe, however, that this launch represents the world of potential advancement and efficiency that can be achieved through the shifting of space travel and exploration from government agencies to private businesses.
For too long, anything having to do with space has been effectively monopolized by government agencies like NASA, hampering potential progress and scientific advancement with political issues and typical bureaucratic proceedings. This launch clearly demonstrates how effective private ventures into space travel can be when spurred by investors and the ability to rise and fall by how successful the venture is.
We all know the pain and anxiety caused by dealings with “essential” government services. The DMV, IRS, and many more agencies provide ample evidence of this. With the advent of cheaper, more advanced technology with faster development and production windows, I am hard-pressed to believe that the increasing privatization of space exploration and travel can be anything but a net benefit to society.