Future of Private Space Flight Reboots
NASA Articles 5/23/12
By: Chris Capps
After a "no-go" mere days ago at the launch pad, the private space industry is giving the industry another shot as they carry their dragon supply craft up into space. The trailblazing SpaceX company fired its shuttle from the Space Complex at Cape Canaveral and made its next foray into space without incident. The launch once again raises the question about government's role in space travel.
The SpaceX Falcon 9 delivered the ship's Dragon cargo capsule to the Earth's orbit on May 22nd, marking yet another step forward for privately funded spaceflight. Charles Bolden, an administrator at NASA called the mission "significant."
With the shuttle program resting in peace, political figures on both sides of the aisle have encouraged the privatization of space programs to make room for industry to better travel to the stars without the same sorts of expenses to tax payers. But there has been some apprehension from many critics of the trend. Some suggest that companies, not necessarily SpaceX, would be driven primarily by profit which could keep us from undertaking more profound endeavors such as traveling to Mars before doing so provides the necessary long-term and short term profits necessary to fund it.
Proponents of privatized space travel suggest the process would still allow for profitable ventures to Mars and other planets, and would be able to do so with profits in mind, reducing the strain it would exert on government and tax payers.
The California based company is expected to deliver over a thousand pounds of experimental materials and supplies to the international space station. But while many of the components were necessary for specific experiments on-board the ISS, the SpaceX flight didn't include any critical components mandatory for the continued success of the ISS' over-all mission.
Of course those heralding the mission as a success still have to deal with several factors that could go wrong, and those involved in the mission are still vigilant to ensure everything that needs to go right will. Though unmanned, the SpaceX rocket represents a tremendous investment by the company in order to ensure private organizations can take the necessary power and move themselves into the stars.
What does the future hold for space travel? Will private companies increasingly bear the burden as we travel outward seeking new innovative ways of meeting the needs of an increasingly large and complex planet of civilizations and societies? Will technological limitations be met and then exceeded by trailblazers willing to take the risks necessary? And will one day human footprints be placed on Mars? Only time will tell. In the mean time, SpaceX still has much of its work ahead of it as its worthy mission continues.