Space exploration has long been the subject matter of dreams and inspiration. It is impossible to count the number of people who, when they were kids, dreamed of being an astronaut one day. NASA still handles missions having to do with sending probes to asteroids and other planets, such as Mars, as well as launching and operating space-based telescopes to search for exoplanets among other missions. Private enterprise, however, has been stepping up in the last few years to fill the gap created by NASA cutbacks over the past decade in terms of getting payloads to orbit.
At the forefront of these private space initiatives has been SpaceX, which is the latest and boldest entrepreneurial venture of Elon Musk. His earlier forays into internet finance as a founder of PayPal and the automotive industry as founder of Tesla have now culminated in the greatest entrepreneurial adventure ever.
The key to making space exploration and exploitation doable for private enterprise has always been to bring the cost down. This is why there was tremendous elation a couple years ago when the team at SpaceX landed the used first stage of a Falcon rocket after it launched its payload into space. The ability to reuse rockets is the key to lowering cost and opening up space in a way never before possible. This success was made all the more sweet by it being preceded by several failures to accomplish this task. That said, none of the Falcon 9 rockets that had successfully landed had yet to actually be used again to launch another payload into space. This just changed.
On March 30, a Falcon 9 rocket that had already been used to launch a payload into orbit in April of last year was successfully launched and recovered again. This is the true beginning of the realization of affordable access to space, which will revolutionize our society in ways we cannot yet fully realize. Undoubtedly, other companies will now jump on the space technology bandwagon, and the competition will only further improve methods and lower costs in reaching low earth orbit and beyond.