The world’s first commercial spacecraft company, SpaceX, has experienced a diverse and fast-moving series of events over the past few years, and particularly the past few weeks. The company satisfied NASA to a high degree when it was able to successfully deliver cargo to and from the International Space Station (ISS), most recently in March of 2013. The ways in which SpaceX has been making headlines more recently, however, is because they are filing a lawsuit against the U.S. government before they continue to build their pioneering reusable rockets.
SpaceX was founded in 2002, and eight years later, successfully sent one of its spacecraft into orbit and brought it back down to Earth. On the heels of that victory was the successful execution of sending its Dragon spacecraft beyond orbit and attaching it to the ISS, in May 2012. Elon Musk, the highly praised inventor and entrepreneur, is the founder and CEO of SpaceX. He began the company to start working towards the goal of eventually enabling life on Earth to become multi-planetary.
While NASA has enjoyed and appreciated the collaboration of efforts that SpaceX has provided, the private spacecraft company has come up against a roadblock or two that they did not foresee. On Friday, Musk held a press conference to brief the attendees on a number of topics. The Falcon 9 rocket, one of the company’s first rockets and an experiment with the goal of reusable spacecraft equipment, had its first stage make a soft and successful landing in the ocean.
To Musk’s dissatisfaction was the fact that the United Launch Alliance’s ability to perform launches on behalf of national security is currently not open to competition. SpaceX took this as the opportunity to file a lawsuit, and to hopefully create more open-ended and people-supported opportunities as they continue building reusable rockets. Musk has commented that SpaceX’s ability to design and manufacture spacecraft is equally viable with that of the Air Force’s abilities, but at a fraction of the price.
Since SpaceX is a private company, they are therefore able to lessen costs in massive ways. Within the past four years, SpaceX has completed five highly notable launches related to their long-term goals. And with the track record of Musk’s success in business, the innovation of transportation, and operations involving money, SpaceX is surely a venture of technological and societal triumph in the making.
Musk noted that even if SpaceX competes in the future for a particular spacecraft launch only to lose, he would be fine with that. The CEO’s motivation behind initiating the lawsuit seemed to be the desire to open up the grounds upon which to compete in the first place. It may also be out of a desire to act benevolently towards the possibility of future commercial spacecraft organizations.
Regardless of what results the lawsuit to be filed ends up bringing, if NASA and SpaceX continue collaborating on goals such as mastering the art of building reusable rockets, there will be many incredible designs and constructions that come forth. Both organizations could discover that the potential of bringing human life to Mars in the next two decades or so arrives at their doorstep sooner than expected. And with a CEO like Elon Musk, the future designs and journeys of SpaceX are sure to be astounding.
Opinion By Brad Johnson