Let’s talk about money.
Space travel is expensive, and money is tight. NASA has to fight for every dollar of funding it can get, and other government agencies are in the same boat. NASA’s current roadmap calls for humans on Mars in the 2030s, but that could all change depending on how the political winds blow. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a steady source of funding, one based on demand and not politics?
Wouldn’t it be nice to have a privately-funded space company?
Enter SpaceX, arguably the #1 private spaceflight company in the world. Founded in 2002 by the legendary Elon Musk, headquartered in California, SpaceX is also planning to make human life multiplanetary by the 2030s. Musk himself says he plans to “retire on Mars.”
Now. Let’s talk about rockets.
SpaceX has the Falcon 9 rocket, which has launched their Dragon capsule to the International Space Station no fewer than three times so far. They were scheduled for a fourth launch yesterday, but had to postpone due to a helium leak. (Maybe they were bringing along balloons?) The next possible launch date is this Friday.
They’re also working on a souped-up version called the Falcon Heavy, which would be the second most powerful rocket ever constructed by man (behind the mammoth Saturn V that took Neil Armstrong to the moon). That’s coming in the next year or so.
And then there’s the Grasshopper, a vertical-takeoff vertical-landing (VTVL) modification that allows their rockets to come back to Earth as neatly as a helicopter. Video of that bad boy in action is right here.
This is happening. We’re headed to Mars, one way or another. Excited? You bet I am.