SpaceX Takes Giant Leap in Space Travel Business
Privatized space travel seemed impossible years ago. Now a company called SpaceX is showing that private businesses can launch into outer space.
Although the cost of space flight was once expensive, small companies are now finding valuable new business plans in the galaxy.
This type of launch would have never lifted off decades ago. In the 1960s and the 1970s, space travel was tightly controlled by the government. The aircraft contracts were only designated to aerospace giants, such as Boeing. Sending an aircraft into space was only possible for the world’s wealthiest and most technologically advanced nations, such as the United States and Russia.
SpaceX, a company headquartered in Southern California, managed to pull it off. On May 21, 2012, the small corporation’s Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon capsule launched from Cape Canaveral in Florida. NASA has already signed a $1.6 billion contract with SpaceX and has provided $400 million in seed money. As one can imagine, there is plenty of booming business to be made within the new aerospace industry.
The 10-year-old company also uses less money and fewer resources. According to an interview with NASA, the Falcon 9 rocket and the Dragon capsule is much smaller than a space shuttle and it carries less cargo. It was designed in this way, because NASA doesn’t need as many resources to transport to the space station anymore. If that wasn’t enough, the development costs for the Falcon 9 are one third of what NASA usually spends for a space station mission.
The rocket development process is also much more efficient, because SpaceX builds the compact rocket from scratch at a single site near Los Angeles. The company also uses plenty of refurbished launch equipment and old engines from the air force. Each rocket also requires fewer people to build, launch and operate it.
Currently, SpaceX is headed by an Internet mogul named Elon Musk. He made a fortune off of founding and selling PayPal to EBay. Then he poured cash into SpaceX and Tesla, an electric car company. His main goal is to make space cool again and to one day send people to Mars.
It may seem like a silly dream, but other companies see plenty of new opportunities in this new space age. One of the newcomers is the Orbital Sciences Corporation in Dulles, Virginia. The company is more involved in cargo-only transportation. NASA has already arranged a $1.9 billion deal for eight cargo flights to the space station once its rockets have proven to be successful.
Alliant TechSystems (ATK) is also an attractive business in Virginia. Although Alliant isn’t funded by NASA, it has developed the Liberty rocket and a passenger spacecraft system. Many of these systems have already been tested. The program manager, Kent Rominger, said that the Liberty would be ready to ferry NASA materials and astronauts in 2016.
Many of these groups seem like cheapskates, but they have proven that space travel is possible with a smaller budget. The U.S. government already sees plenty of potential in this field of newcomers. There is plenty of booming business in this up-and-coming field of economical space travel. Perhaps a Mars mission could become possible in the near future, if space travel companies continue to prove their success.