It’s getting closer! Today, Jen wants to share what she’s been learning about the SpaceX program, and what’s going into space on Sunday.
SpaceX was founded in 2002 by PayPal entrepreneur Elon Musk. The company has developed Falcon 1 and Falcon 9 rockets, as well as the Dragon spacecraft. The rockets were designed to be reusable, which is pretty impressive since previous incarnations of rocketry were mostly debris once they were used. The Dragon spacecraft was designed to carry cargo, pressurized or non-pressurized, or crew members.
In 2005, SpaceX was contracted by NASA to begin making further strides in spacecraft technology. On May 25, 2012, SpaceX became the first privately-owned company to send cargo into space. Current plans are to continue modifications for the Dragon spacecraft, so that by 2015, humans can be sent to the ISS. There’s also development to send a mission to Mars in 2018. “Musk has stated that his intention for the company is to help in the creation of a permanent human presence on Mars.”
That’s huge! First off, to have one private company be able to do this means that the path is paved for others. I can imagine it’s quite a start-up cost, but the fact remains that it is possible. With the budget cuts in the US over the past few years, there was a lot of concern that we would never reach our full potential. I mean, we raced with Russia and China just fifty years ago to put a man on the moon. Now, that competitive edge is gone, and I was afraid, so was the space program. So the fact that private companies are still working on reaching the stars is very good news for me. Another one of my childhood dreams was to live on the Moon. Granted, my timetable was pretty aggressive – I figured we’d be there by now. But then again, I figured we’d have flying cars on the street and teleportation pads in the home. So I’ll settle for this, for now anyways.
Not only has the SpaceX company breathed new life into the US Space Program, but it’s creating jobs for those highly-trained professionals who were grounded. The launch on Sunday is the first of twelve resupply missions to the ISS. And I can’t wait to see this launch and learn everything I can while I’m there!