Jan 01, 2015 06:44 PM EST
Ever wonder why they call space the "final frontier"? Well it isn't because it's the last place for us to explore or expand. As it so happens, space is often thought of as the final frontier because most of what leaves our Earth in search of exploration never comes back. In fact, it's the reason why Mars One's newest plans for colonization on Mars is only planning one-way trips. But what if we could reuse rockets and reclaim the several-million-dollar investments that our space agencies, and our tax dollars, invest each and every year? Perhaps we'd be able to go in search of far more things. And that's what private-sector rocket company SpaceX hopes to achieve.
2014 marked an undoubtedly monumental year for space exploration as the European Space Agency (ESA) landed on a far off moving comet, and the United States' NASA made great strides in its exploration of Mars. Even India's Mangalyaan orbiter reached the nearby red planet, being the first long-distance spacecraft the large Asian nation has put out into space. But with so many spacecrafts going out to space, a new project led by SpaceX is hoping to provide future missions with a feasible way of coming back.
"Reaching Earth orbit [alone] typically costs between ten- to twenty-thousand-dollars per kilogram" spokesperson for the Scientific American, Lee Billings says. "That's because rocketry is the only form of transportation where you throw away your vehicle once you've reached your destination."
"But that might change as soon as January, when Space Exploration Technologies, also known as SpaceX, plans to launch a rocket into space, then bring the rocket's first stage back for a precision landing."
Though typically detached and left to float in space afters its rockets' fuel is exhausted, the stage 1 of a new mission designed by SpaceX will return home with its newly designed Falcon 9 model, which will allow the company to reuse the rocket at a later date.
On a mission to resupply the International Space Station next week with food, experiments, tools and other necessities, SpaceX will test its Falcon 9 remotely piloted space capsule with a launch planned for Tuesday Jan. 6. Then, with plenty of luck, and the help of four engine bursts, SpaceX hopes for a precision landing on a robotic barge, akin to an oil rigger, floating in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.
Should the company be able to make its precise landing, especially without any damage incurred in flight or in re-entry, SpaceX may change the spaceflight game forever. In fact, if the company is able to land and reuse its rockets, not only will SpaceX created millions of dollars in future revenue for itself, by setting itself in a class above all other competitors, but it will also reduce launch costs of future space missions by tens of millions of dollars with the potential for freeing up funds for so many more missions after that.
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