SpaceX has in a short period exceeded expectations and propelled itself to the forefront of space innovation. The group is owned by visionary Elon Musk who has set ambitious goals for the agency. Groups such as SpaceX have in many ways begun to replace national space programs such as NASA; offering different perspectives and operational procedures, at often lower costs. Yesterday SpaceX landed itself into the history books.
The team used their giant Falcon 9 rocket to launch a SES-10 satellite into orbit. What made this so impressive is the reusability of the rocket, and the use of advanced manless computation. One of the biggest problems holding back space research is the cost of launching and building rockets. NASA has struggled for years to find cheaper solutions to this problem. Typically rockets have boosters full of fuel that carry the cargo or vessel up out of the atmosphere. These compartments break off mid flight to reduce weight and land back on Earth, often damaged.
This ongoing problem of rebuilding new boosters and engines appears to have been resolved by SpaceX. Yesterday for the first time in human history, an orbital rocket was used to launch into space, then safely land back on Earth. Not only is the safe landing impressive because now SpaceX will be able to save immense costs on rockets by reusing them, but they also achieved this with incredible technology. The Falcon 9 rocket controlled its own return to Earth; it landed standing upright, on a drone barge floating in the Atlantic Ocean. The rocket and the barge had to coordinate and calculate with extreme accuracy to pull off this feat of engineering and computation. It was an impressive moment to be proud of. It is through agencies such as SpaceX that humans are pushing boundaries and truly shooting for the stars.
Check out this short 8 Minute video by The Verge to get a great synopsis of this historic moment: https://youtu.be/-Eeklq1IAvQ
By Daniel Govedar (March 2017)