SpaceX to Cheapen Space

Space travel and exploration is extremely expensive. One major reasons why space isn’t open to the public yet is due to cost—specifically having to throw away every rocket that is used. But Elon Musk and SpaceX are changing that.

Because launching rockets is so expensive and delicate, the business launching them makes sure that it is as reliable and durable as possible. This only makes the launch cost more, making the company realize that they should make the cargo as light and efficient as possible, to ensure that they can pack enough for the trip to be worth the risk and cost. But this also leads to more expensive rockets.

Compare these rockets with a modern passenger airplane. The cost to fuel an airplane is about 30-50 percent of the entire cost. Contrast that to less than 1 percent of the total cost to launch a rocket is for the fuel—and it certainly isn’t lower because it needs less fuel. Depending on the rocket, they can use anywhere from 1-4 million pounds of fuel for one trip, whereas a plane on a 10-hour flight uses only 250 thousand pounds. So, if it isn’t the fuel, it has to be just the extremely high cost of the rocket itself.

SpaceX was founded in 2002 with the main goal of bringing everyday civilians into space. However, Elon Musk knew that this would be impossible as long as every flight needed a new, tens-of-millions dollar rocket. So he started fixing it. In 2015, SpaceX managed to successfully land their rocket the Falcon 9 on its boosters, and after only a little bit of maintenance, they were able to reuse those boosters. Since then, that has been the standard modus operandi for SpaceX; over 85 percent of the Falcon 9’s launches uses recycled boosters. But it didn’t end at there. According to The New Atlantis, “SpaceX has also begun recovering payload fairings—the nose cones atop the rockets—saving about $6 million per reuse.”

Elon Musk is confident that with these new improvements, they will be able to place a man on mars in, at most, ten years. SpaceX is continuing to increase the amount of reusable parts and sections and won’t stop until they can fully reuse every rocket they launch, regardless of wether they make it to mars soon or not. And every single one of these improvements is lowering the price of a ticket to space. Though it may still seen like a lot, Elon Musk says their newest, most reusable rocket, Starship, could launch for a mere 1 to 2 million dollars. This isn’t only proving that civilian space travel is possible; it suggests that it could be much sooner than most people expect.

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