Return to Space
Updated: Jul 2, 2020
I wasn’t born to see NASA launch the Saturn V rocket almost 50 years ago from the famous Launch Complex Pad 39 A in Cape Canaveral. I’ve watched the videos, hung up posters, built models and obsessed over how awesome this must have been for humanity to witness. The last US spacecraft to launch humans into orbit was the Space Shuttle Atlantis back on July 8, 2011, almost a decade ago.
What SpaceX and NASA just accomplished with this take-off and insertion into orbit of
crewed astronauts Doug Hurley & Robert Behnken is no small feat.
Strapped into the new Crew Dragon variant on top of the Falcon 9 Block 5 rocket from SpaceX.
Deails on the Falcon 9 block 5 are as follows:
- Stage 1 - 9 x Merlin 1D engines
- Stage 2 - 1 x Merlin Vacuum engine
- 70 meters tall
- Little over 3.5 meters in diameter
- 7,600 kN of initial thrust
Stage 1 of the rocker also landed successfully on the autonomous spaceport drone ship “Of course I still love you” autonomous spaceport drone ship", which still amazes me every single time I witness it.
SpaceX also is doing this at an almost half of the per-seat cost at $55m vs Boeing's $90m.
So SpaceX beat Boeing with less, money, charges less per a seat and has a far more capable vehicle. That’s disruptive for a privately held company beating out the incumbents at all odds.
Launching rockets is hard, building a rocket that can make it to orbit is hard, reusing a first stage and having it land on drone ship at sea is hard, sending humans into space – doing all of the above is way beyond risk, but it is the disruption we all cherish.
Starship is going through its spaces with static fires, explosions and rapid engineering and manufacturing. This iterative process and approach to space is not only less risky, but extremely disruptive from a cost, manufacturing and accelerated improvement standpoint. Blue Origin is also on its way in the coming years with it's massive rocket and moon lander. The bar is now being pushed from earth orbit, back to the moon where we where in the 1960s to now Mars. We live in very exciting and disruptive times when it come to space exporation and I can't wait for what the future holds for commercial industries disrupting government entities.