If you have ever wondered what it was like to live in the time of Thomas Edison and Nikolai Tesla, Henry Ford and the Wright Brothers, when new inventions were fundamentally changing the way humans lived, wonder no more. In the last few years, we have witnessed, with increasing frequency, our generation’s equivalent of the moon landing. If the last 47 years have been a little disappointing for you, when it comes to space travel, the next decade promises to make up for it. Finally, someone is figuring out how to make space travel affordable, accessible, safe, even normal.
The XYZ has been eagerly following the success of Elon Musk and his company Space X. In December we reported that Space X had managed to land a rocket after blasting it into low Earth orbit. Having failed several times to land it on a barge floating in the ocean, because, why not, Space X had a crack at the fairly simple task of landing it on dry land, which has the advantage of not moving around, generally.
After pulling off this, let’s admit it, piece of cake, they decided to give the barge another crack, and yesterday, they pulled that off too.
It cannot be overstated how significant this is. Comparisons to the moon landing are appropriate. The moon landings were monumental achievements, but due to their enormous expense, the wimping out of the rival USSR, and the stagnation caused by an increasingly bureaucratic NASA and the crony capitalism of the big aerospace companies which stifled competition and progress, we haven’t had any way of building on what should have been humanity’s first step into the solar system.
The landing of a rocket means that it can be reused. Imagine if a Boeing 747 had no way of landing, and the passengers all had to parachute over their destination, and let the 747 crash into the sea, every time. Most human travel would still be by boat. Until now, a very expensive rocket had to be thrown away every time something was launched into space.
Put simply, Space X will be able to reduce the cost of space travel to a fraction of its former cost. The breakthroughs in technology it is achieving should allow us to get from one side of the world to the other in under an hour; provide blanket internet coverage of the entire world; make travel to Mars possible, and economically feasible.
Oh, yes. And ensure the survival of the human species by helping to create a human colony on Mars.
Buckle up. We are in for an exciting decade.