CEO of SpaceX and Tesla Motors, Elon Musk, is having a very good week. After the successful test of the Grasshopper rocket system in Texas (officially known as the Falcon 9), as well as the (mostly) good reviews of his Hyperloop transportation concept; SpaceX is now past preliminary review of the specs to transport humans into space by NASA on the Dragon Space Module. Musk is having a great week and SpaceX makes two significantly solid steps forward to maned space flight.
On Tuesday, SpaceX had a very successful test of their reusable rocket system code named Grasshopper. A video was released the following day demonstrating the rocket going into the air just over of 800 feet before moving sideways and landing perfectly on the same platform it left from. An impressive sight, especially when you consider that the rocket that was launched is 10 stories tall.
Then on Thursday morning, Musk released a concept design for a new transportation system he calls Hyperloop. While the impetus for this design was rooted in the disillusionment of the California proposal for a high speed rail system, Musk also saw it as an opportunity to assist in finding the next major transportation system. It was mostly well received, though many don’t want to get their hopes up. Regardless, another win for Musk.
Later Thursday, SpaceX’s preliminary designs had been reviewed for the Dragon Space Module’s necessary components for human space flight and were approved by NASA. This was another solid step for SpaceX to begin maned space flights into orbit. A cherry on the top of a great week for Musk.
As it stands now, SpaceX has a contract with NASA for 12 un-maned payloads to go up to the International Space Station and has already paid out $1.6 Billion to do so. It has successful completed two thus far, but the preliminary designs review will take the company one firm step forward to begin making maned space flights soon.
SpaceX has already shown that it could launch a rocket for below $500 per pound of payload, but without being able to reuse any part of it. However, it is Musk’s intention to get every stage of the rocket to be reusable, which could mean payloads getting into space for less than $100 per pound (this being a fairly conservative number).
Assuming SpaceX is able to achieve reusability at every stage for their rockets getting into space and returning safely, we may be able to get space travel to an affordable amount which, in turn, would allow us to begin colonizing our solar system. Although, SpaceX is only able to move good, and eventually people, into space, the rest may have to be developed by others. Only time will tell, but, regardless, the idea is very exciting.
All-in-all a fine week for Elon Musk and his commercial space company SpaceX. Successful test flight of a rocket, a welcome comment to innovating human transportation, and getting the first solid step on the journey to human space flight. The life of an innovator pushing the bounds of two huge industries must make his inner child smile.
By Iam Bloom