SpaceX made history as its Falcon 9 rocket blasted 11 satellites to orbit and successfully landed back down upright at Cape Canaveral, Florida. The triumphant return of the reusable rocket after liftoff is a big step towards the reusability or recyclability of spacecraft, cutting the expense of space travel.
As reported by the L.A. Times on Monday, the Hawthorne headquarters of the company was filled with cheers and chants after the rocket touched down on a concrete pad about 10 minutes after the liftoff at 8:29 pm Eastern. SpaceX CEO Elon Musk tweeted “Welcome back, baby!” around an hour after the landing.
The Falcon 9’s mission was the company’s first launch since its cargo-carrying, unmanned rocket exploded on June 28, costing NASA and taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars. The mishap put a bump on the speedy rise of SpaceX and was also the third failure for America’s commercial space companies in less than a year.
Usually, rockets are destroyed or lost after take-off, requiring an entirely new rocket for each launch. SpaceX’s intention of reusing the first-stage rocket and its nine engines can significantly lessen the cost of spaceflight. Musk and aerospace engineers have long been working towards making spacecraft reusable, and Falcon 9’s feat is the start of it.
“This is great for the industry. It will push us to boundaries where we haven’t gone before,” said Commercial Spaceflight Federation president Eric Stallmer.
Reducing the cost of space tech
Aside from Falcon 9, space company Blue Origin also landed a test reusable rocket at its launch site in West Texas last month. The company is spearheaded by Jeff Bezos, famously known as Amazon’s founder. SpaceX’s Falcon 9 launched satellites into orbit and flies cargo to the space station, making it go higher and faster than Blue Origin’s.
Blue Origin built a much smaller ship, which was for flying passengers to sub-orbital space, with a duration of a few minutes. “Full reuse is a game changer, and we can’t wait to fuel up and fly again,” Bezos stated.
Other space technologies are also finding cost efficient ways without sacrificing scientific discoveries. An example of this is Thunder Energies Corporation ( OTCQB: TNRG ), a company which changed how and what ground based telescopes see in the night sky. Its Santilli Telescope is the world’s first truly new telescope since Galileo times, being the only optical instrument designed with concave lenses.
The Santilli telescope and its concave lenses paved the way for the first known systematic search for antimatter celestial bodies. The detection of antimatter galaxies, cosmic rays and asteroids through the Santilli telescope has been confirmed independently by scientists. Both professional and amateur astronomers are the target markets of the antimatter telescope, making it an affordable revolutionary space technology.
Cutting back on expenses while still achieving space goals is no easy feat. It took SpaceX three tries to get break through the reusability barrier. In January, the guiding fins of the first test rocket stopped working, making it crash on the drone ship where it was supposed to land on.
The attempt in April was near success but an engine malfunction caused the rocket to fall off the platform into the ocean. In June, SpaceX’s midsea landing attempt ended in an explosion. The company’s success this Monday was also its first attempt to land the rocket on solid ground.
"A jumbo jet costs about the same as one of our Falcon 9 rockets, but airlines don't junk a plane after a one-way trip from LA to New York," as written in the SpaceX blog . The company's rockets cost around $60 to $90 million.
Space technologies will take up millions to billions of dollars but with the introduction of the concept of reusability and recyclability, staggeringly expensive equipment for astronomy will not be the exclusive future of scientists and astronomers.
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