Why SpaceX's Reusable Rocket Is A Big Deal
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Why SpaceX's Reusable Rocket Is A Big Deal

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Why SpaceX's Reusable Rocket Is A Big Deal

Space, which many consider to be the final frontier, (excluding our oceans of which we have only explored roughly five percent) is an extremely vast region of difficult to explore area. It's not hard to figure out why we humans have not even scratched the figurative surface of the cosmos considering that once we leave our atmosphere space is a perfect vacuum. Also, the average temperature is -270 degrees Celsius, and there is no protection from deadly cosmic radiation.

Besides the obstacles we must overcome in terms of the environment of space, the fact of the matter is that it is also incredibly expensive to reach outer space, in the first place. Current rocket designs allow them to only be used once, which adds up to being very expensive to send anything to space at all. Conventional chemical rockets are also a very slow and inefficient. If we wish to explore much farther than Mars, then being able to develop much more powerful and efficient engines will allow us to reach farther places faster, and cheaper.

The high cost of sending things to space along with the low profitability of space exploration are the chief reasons that space technology is not as funded as much as It should be. The biggest news in the field of rocket technology recently has been the development of reusable rocket systems. This new design, spearheaded by billionaire Elon Musk and his space technology company SpaceX, has been in the spotlight for being the first attempting at launching, and landing a rocket to be used again in the future. Current rockets are used one time, and after getting spacecraft into space, fall and burn up in the atmosphere. So a new rocket has to be designed and built each time we plan to venture into outer space. SpaceX aims at creating a rocket that will be able to travel to space, re-enter earth’s atmosphere, and then safely land on a landing platform to be used again. Find it analogous to a commercial jetliner. It would be very impractical and expensive to fly if we had to rebuild a jetliner each time we wished to fly somewhere. If this reusable rocket technology can be developed, according to Elon Musk, it will revolutionize space technology.

If one can figure out how to effectively reuse rockets just like airplanes, the cost of access to space will be reduced by as much as a factor of a hundred. A fully reusable vehicle has never been done before. That really is the fundamental breakthrough needed to revolutionize access to space.”
(“Reusability, The Key to Making Life Multi-Planetary” SpaceX. 10 June 2015, n.p.)

SpaceX is currently on the brink of a successful landing. On January 10, SpaceX’s first attempt at landing its Falcon 9 rocket on its floating barge In the Atlantic coined “Just Read the Instructions” resulted in the explosion of the rocket as it impacted the barge with too much force. SpaceX’s second attempt on April 14, proved to be a much more successful landing. Even though the rocket did not land successfully.

(“SpaceX’s Rocket-Landing Near Miss” Space. 15 April 2015. Wall, Mike.)

The rocket, itself, landed successfully on the landing platform, but toppled over shortly after touching down. While not a perfect landing, it is a milestone in the development of rapidly reusable rocket systems.

On August 9, SpaceX plans to attempt another landing of its Falcon 9 rocket after it takes up an observation satellite. The development of reusable rockets could have a huge impact on industries beyond those associated with space. Companies such as telecommunications and imaging could greatly benefit from the applications of such technologies. The cost of space access could drop from $70 million to as low as $20 to 30 million. This allows companies that could never before consider outer space to be able to consider what it could do for their company.

“When launch costs drop, new customers will emerge,” says Dick “Rocket” David, CEO of space industry information provider NewSpace Global. (“The Next Space Race Will Be Among Fortune 500 Companies” Fortune. 27 January 2015. Dillow, Clay.)

Reducing the cost of sending satellites into orbit is a big deal to information and analytics companies who rely heavily on communication, and data collected and relayed by orbiting satellites. This reduced cost of sending satellites into orbit will play an integral role in today’s biggest companies. SpaceX recently announced a plan to introduce a network of micro-satellites over the next five years that would blanket the globe in Internet. The investment bank Fidelity, along with Google, has already invested in the project. The project, valued at about $2 billion, plans to launch 648 satellites weighing 285 pounds each. They plan to start launching them in 2018, and each will require a ride into orbit. Sounds like a reusable rocket would be nice for a project like this. (“The Next Space Race Will Be Among Fortune 500 Companies” Fortune. 27 January 2015. Dillow, Clay.)

Sources:
Dillow, C. (2015, January 27). "The Next Space Race Will Be Among Fortune 500 Companies." Retrieved from http://fortune.com/2015/01/27/spacex-reusable-rock...

"Reusability: The Key to Making Life Multi-Planetary." (2015, June 10). Retrieved from http://www.spacex.com/news/2013/03/31/reusability-...

Wall, M. (2015, April 15). "See SpaceX's Rocket-Landing Near Miss in This Amazing Video." Retrieved from http://www.space.com/29111-spacex-reusable-rocket-...

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