The Future of Space X-ploration: Shooting for the Stars

Juliette Uncovsky, Staff Writer

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In 1969, America made its first steps on the moon commencing their journey into space exploration. Fifty years later America continues to succeed in its discovery of the vast Milky Way Galaxy. In 2002, Elon Musk, an investor, engineer inventor and CEO of Tesla, founded the company SpaceX. SpaceX is a private aerospace manufacturer and space transport aimed at reducing space travel costs and beginning the colonization of Mars.

It all began in 2001 when Musk came up with a unique idea to send a greenhouse to Mars in order to grow plants on a new planet, eventually regaining the public’s interest in space exploration. He hired Tom Mueller, a rocket engineer in early 2002, thus starting the company “SpaceX”. Musk started by building the smallest useful orbital rocket, which would provide important feedback for later experiments. In 2008, SpaceX funded the creation of the first liquid-propellent rocket, Falcon 1, that reached orbit. SpaceX was on its way to becoming a company that would change life as we know it.

In 2010, SpaceX created the Dragon which was successfully launched, put into orbit and recovered back on Earth. Dragon is a freeflying spacecraft that delivers cargo to the international space station and possibly astronauts in the future. Remarkably, they were the first private company to send a spacecraft to the international space station making it a success among the public. Dragon is currently the only flying spacecraft that is capable of bringing back significant amounts of cargo to Earth. As of March 2017, SpaceX has flown 10 spacecrafts to the International Space Station under a “cargo resupply” contract from NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration), in which they send up resources needed in the space station frequently.

In 2012, SpaceX launched one of their most famous missions, Falcon 9. Falcon 9 is the first orbital class rocket that has the capability to be reused for future flights. One of SpaceX’s primary goals is to reduce cost of space travel. Musk intends on using reusable rockets to lower the price. Strategically made with two main parts, the Falcon 9 can easily be thrusted into space and even complete its mission in the event that the engine shuts down. It made history in 2012 when it successfully brought Dragon into the orbit that eventually reaches the international space station. This made SpaceX the first private company to ever visit the International Space Station. Since then, Falcon 9 has made numerous travels to the station in order to deliver satellites to orbit, refuel the station with supplies and bring back cargo to Earth.

On July 16, 1969, at 9:32 am, the Saturn 5 rocket launched from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, and landed on the moon four days later. Today, SpaceX has been working on the same launchpad, preparing for the launch of The Falcon Heavy, the most powerful rocket since the Saturn 5. According to the New York Times, some space advocates believe that the Falcon Heavy will create a faster, and cheaper way for NASA  to send astronauts back to the moon. Additionally it will help their private company to compete in new markets that could potentially launch large spy satellites to aid the United States Government. The Falcon Heavy will be able to lift 140,000 pounds to lower-Earth’s orbit with the help of two additional Falcon 9 boosters attached to the side, tripling horsepower at rocket liftoff. This latest experiment coming from SpaceX will further enhance the development of space exploration and give researchers at the company a new look into what it will take to bring humans to mars. Currently SpaceX has been working on modifying the launchpad to accommodate to the heavyweight of the rocket. It has successfully completed their experiment that plans to light all 27 engines at once. The company has stated that the launch came back with good results, marking down the days until they launch it off to space.

 

SpaceX still has a lot to do while preparing for their mission to colonize Mars. Musk stated in 2011, that he plans to start sending humans to the surface of Mars in 10 to 20 years. In 2011 NASA states that they signed SpaceX to a further development contract which enables them to construct the human-rated Dragon, which would transport astronauts safely from earth to the International Space Station and back. According to Forbes magazine however, some argue that SpaceX is unreliable when it will come to transporting actual astronauts to and from space after 2015 when SpaceX’s Falcon 9 cargo mission failed after it exploded minutes after launch. Its destination was to the International Space Station to refuel them with supplies. The failed rocket reportedly cost NASA, the sponsors, $110 million. Nonetheless SpaceX is on the brink of making space travel and colonization the future of the 21st century. SpaceX plans on sending the first cargo mission to Mars in 2022. This mission will serve to confirm water sources and to identify hazards. Additionally it will place a power source, mining, and life support infrastructure. Targeted for 2024 is another mission that will prepare for future crew flights creating the first Mars base. This will then lead to building a city and eventually a proper colonization on Mars.

 

The sky is not the limit for SpaceX.They will begin by sending their first humans in space with the Dragon in 2018. This will then pave the way for their awaited goal of colonizing Mars and spreading life from one planet to another. If Musk’s plans succeed, in 10 years, humans will be able to live on Mars, obtaining a new milestone for space exploration and expanding human space travel that has never been imagined before.

 

“You want to wake up in the morning and think the future is going to be great – and that’s what being a spacefaring civilization is all about. It’s about believing in the future and thinking that the future will be better than the past. And I can’t think of anything more exciting than going out there and being among the stars.” — Elon Musk, CEO and lead designer, SpaceX

 

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About the Writer
Juliette Uncovsky, Associate Editor

Juliette Uncovsky is a senior and is the Associate Editor of the BluePrints Newspaper.  In the future, she plans on pursuing environmental sciences and...

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The Future of Space X-ploration: Shooting for the Stars