The next frontier

By | Science & Technology
Space X's EUTELSATABS LIFTOFF 3 Credit@ 2017 SPACE EXPLORATION TECHNOLOGIES CORP

The phrase “one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind” may have come about as a result of the advancement of the aerospace industry. Humanity’s goals for space exploration may have seen its fair share of historical milestones, yet it seems the cost of conducting these projects, and the layers of red tape around such projects may have slowed progress in places. This is something entrepreneur Elon Musk seems to be aware of and an aspect he aims to remedy. As the CEO of Tesla Motors and Co-Founder of PayPal, Elon Musk may be the visionary individual suitable to pioneer the next stage of aerospace transport; from his software engineering and business background in PayPal to his architectural acumen at Tesla Motors, Elon Musk aims to make the leap to rocket science.

This latest venture arrived in the form of the private company Space X. Founded in 2002 by Elon Musk, Space X may have cast their sights on space exploration with a goal to reduce space exploration cost and enable the colonisation of Mars. Science fiction aside, Space X aims to be a private company, unrestricted by the government and independently operated. With their independence comes a creative control over their production line from start to finish. Space X aims to design and manufacture their own components, allowing the company to tailor their production and fine-tune each individual component.

Phoyo of Space X's CRS 4 DRAGON ORBIT orbiting Earth Credit@ 2017 SPACE EXPLORATION TECHNOLOGIES CORP

Phoyo of Space X’s CRS 4 DRAGON ORBIT orbiting Earth Credit@ 2017 SPACE EXPLORATION TECHNOLOGIES CORP

Since the Earth’s resources seem to be finite in its capacity, Space X aims to turn humanity into space fairing, multi-planet civilisation. As Space X controls their design and manufacturing process, the majority of in-house created parts seem to be designed around affordable rocket construction while simultaneously satisfying their primary purpose.

This concept seems to extend further as Space X aims to reduce costs by developing reusable rockets. With this goal of developing re-usable rockets ingrained into the design and manufacturing process, Space X aims to make the entire process of launching rockets more affordable compared to its predecessors. This new approach to rocket travel and space exploration may have seen Space X setting several records over the last few years, seemingly leaving a wake of milestones in their path.

  • 2010 – First Privately developed spacecraft in history to re-enter from low-Earth Orbit
  • 2012 – First privately developed spacecraft to visit the International Space Station.
  • 2014 – Falcon 9 successfully lands in the Atlantic Ocean.
  • 2014 – NASA awards Space X a contract to fly American astronauts.
  • 2015 – Falcon 9 rocket delivers 11 communication satellites into orbit and the first-stage returns, making this the first ever orbital class rocket landing.
  • 2016 – Falcon 9 rocket launches the Dragon Spacecraft to the International Space Station and the first-stage returns, landing on drone ship.
CRS 4 DRAGON BERTHED orbiting Earth Credit@ 2017 SPACE EXPLORATION TECHNOLOGIES CORP

CRS 4 DRAGON BERTHED connecting with the Inernational Space Station Credit@ 2017 SPACE EXPLORATION TECHNOLOGIES CORP

Space X’s record-breaking advancements in space travel seem to mark a rapid advancement in the field. With each successful mission and new record broken, history might be made as humanity takes one step closer towards reaching other planets. Space X’s ultimate goal is to develop the technology and resources which facility the human colonisation of Mars, a goal the company aims to achieve by 2030. With Mars’s 24 ½ hour days, resource-rich surface and proximity to Earth, it seems the red planet may be humanities best chance at becoming a multi-planetary species.

This may seem to tip-toe along the border of science-fiction and be challenging to predict exactly how close humanity may be to space exploration; however, the aerospace industry seems to be seen a revitalisation in recent years as a result of Space X and Elon Musk’s determination. Whether this goal is achievable, Space X may open the planet to new options and make space travel and the colonisation of other planets possible. As Space X prepares for another year of boundary pushing, they aim to launch a further 70 satellites, bringing humanity closer to a potential future on other planets.

How might the increase in Space X launches bring humanity closer to the colonization of new planets?

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