One Small Step for Man, One Giant Commercially Flown Rocket for Mankind
By: Dominic Palosz ’18
On Tuesday, February 6th, 2018, SpaceX successfully launched the Falcon Heavy, the most powerful rocket ever built. It launched with 3 Falcon 9 Booster rockets and carried a payload: Elon Musk’s personal Tesla Roadster.
The purpose of the Falcon Heavy launch was to demonstrate to the world, investors, and the space industry the possibility of deep-space exploration and colonization through SpaceX’s new rocket program.
The Falcon Heavy program aims to send payloads of various sizes into deep space such as supplies to a future Mars colony, satellites into previously unexplored areas, or automobiles into Orion’s Belt. The program’s claim to fame is its booster rocket technology which allows Stage 1 Booster launch rockets to return to Earth and be reused. All previous Stage 1 boosters were designed to burn up in the atmosphere upon re-entry, but it was extremely expensive to keep building these for single use. Thus the idea for the Falcon 9 Boosters was born.
Not only is deep space exploration much more possible now because of SpaceX, it’s also fractionally cheaper than it would have cost just a few years ago. Every Falcon Heavy with side-boosters only costs $90 million, an incredible leap from the $350 million required to build Delta IV Heavy rockets, which are manufactured by United Launch Alliance.
Currently, both NASA and SpaceX are planning to send humans to Mars to potentially start a colony within a few decades, with the first manned missions to Mars occuring in 2024 by SpaceX. and the Falcon Heavy just made it incredibly simple to construct colonies with the ability to send supplies rapidly. Musk imagines a city being built on Mars with a million people between 40 and 100 years from now with his easy to use technology.
With the booster rockets capable of returning to earth and deep-space travel becoming much more of a reality, commercial travel to Mars and becoming an interplanetary society are almost coming out of the science-fiction realm and into the world of reality. Going to another planet is not so simple, however.
When asked if they would choose to go to another planet if it were for economic or environmental reasons, several ND seniors responded “yes.” A whole new world means that the planet starts from scratch where humanity needs to develop a habitable atmosphere, and thus we can better take care of it and truly respect it. Those who travel to Mars and other planets will be given the opportunities to make these planets truly theirs, whether through creating their own governments or starting their own businesses based off unique resources only found on those planets. Those on Mars will also be much closer to the asteroid belt, allowing for emerging space companies to settle down on the red planet to begin mining precious resources from all those space rocks.
Following the immense leap for deep space exploration, Musk is looking towards creating a system where everyone can be easily connected with each other. With the internet being such an integral part of our everyday lives, SpaceX is currently in the process of making the web much more accessible and widespread, no matter where you may be in space. On February 16th, SpaceX had launched two “space internet satellites” which are the first of over 12,000 planned probes which will beam down internet down to Earth and, when we arrive there, Mars.
All this is possible because an ingenious man once had an idea to create a private company to send humans into space. All this is possible because a super-powered rocket launched from earth with self-returning boosters on February 6, 2018. All this is possible because of the genius of Elon Musk and his vision for the future of humanity.