The SpaceX Rocket and How It’s Revolutionizing Space Travel

            Elon Musk is known for many things, among which are his Hamilton-esque, non-stop work ethic and willingness to defy the norm. These days, he’s in the news most for work on the SpaceX rocket known as Falcon 9.

            The Falcon 9 rocket is the same one that made headlines last year for its explosion whilst landing on a barge at sea. However, SpaceX successfully landed its most recent Flacon 9 launch in January, proving that the company is continuing to push forward. This rocket is powered by a Merlin engine, specifically developed for the two-stage rocket and aiming for the goal of reusability.

            The space shuttle was revolutionary in its own right for being reusable. Unlike previous rockets, each of the six shuttles were designed to make up to one hundred trips, or be active for a span of ten years—whichever came first. With the projected end of the shuttle program being clear, there was an opportunity to commercialize space flight.

            That’s just what SpaceX is doing.

            By cutting down the costs of space flight and exploration and testing out new technologies, the work that has before been mostly left to the great minds at NASA and other nation’s government space programs is growing into a big business. Part of the work at SpaceX has included using an aluminum lithium alloy to manufacture its rocket tanks, a cheaper alternative to other metals. Much of the cost-cutting has come from SpaceX’s own willingness to innovate and build in-house materials instead of relying on other space vendors, but support from NASA has also played a key role. SpaceX has the benefit of drawing from the knowledge that years of space travel has built up, and they are able to maximize their efforts without wadding through much of the bureaucratic red tape that NASA must face as a government agency.

            In the end, SpaceX has proven time after time that they aren’t kidding about affordable space travel. One recent study conducted in joint by the Air Force and Nasa found that Musk’s company is completing their projects at a third of the cost of what NASA would budget. That means that some of the space dreams we still think of as dreams could very well become a reality, and faster than we think.

            As they say on the Enterprise, boldly go.