SpaceX has launched another one of its spacecrafts into space this week.
One of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rockets was launched from Vandenberg, California, on Monday, October 9, 2017. This week’s launch sent 10 satellites into orbit for Iridium Communications (NASDAQ: IRDM).
This launch is the first of two that are scheduled for this week for SpaceX. The company plans to launch another rocket on the opposite coast of the U.S. All should go smoothly since these types of launches are very familiar to SpaceX.
SpaceX and communications company Iridium hold a contract with each other that involves launching 75 of Iridium’s NEXT satellites, which will end up creating a constellation of 66 telecommunications probes, in lower Earth orbit. The company has been launching Iridium’s satellites in increments and will continue to do so over the next year.
SpaceX’s launches this week will bring the number of completed missions to 15 so far for this year — double the amount it completed in 2016.
With 15 missions already completed this year, what else can we expect from SpaceX?
SpaceX Mission to Mars
Elon Musk, founder and chairman for the company, spoke openly about one of SpaceX’s biggest goals of taking humans to Mars. You’ve probably heard something in the past few years about these plans. It still remains a major goal for him and the company. And he’s making sure no one forgets.
Recently, Elon announced to the International Astronautical Congress in Adelaide, Australia, that SpaceX will be able to send unmanned cargo ships to Mars in 2022, in addition to the plans of having 100 explorers make it to the planet by 2024.
The first unmanned cargo ship from SpaceX that will make it to Mars will deposit items that will be used to build the first Mars colony. In addition, it will be there to observe the planet and scope out any possible resources that could be used in the future.
Then SpaceX will send a crewed spacecraft that will land on Mars, which will be accompanied by cargo ships with supplies to establish settlement on the planet.
We can definitely expect to hear more about SpaceX’s Mars exploration and colonization in the next few years, and only time will tell how concrete those plans become.
A Quicker Way to Travel to Major Cities
On top of SpaceX’s plans of establishing life and travel on the red planet, it’s also planning to make it easier and faster to travel to major cities around the world.
During the International Astronautical Congress, Musk revealed that SpaceX will launch a reusable rocket by 2020. Musk has dubbed this “legendary” rocket “Big F*cking Rocket” (BFR).
BFR will be designed for traveling in space, but it’ll also be designed to fly across the Earth.
Musk posted on Instagram that the BFR can “fly to most places on Earth in under 30 minutes and anywhere in under 60 minutes.” And, to intrigue people more, he said the cost per seat on this rocket would be the same as that of a full-fare economy seat in an aircraft.
There’s a lot to be excited for and a lot to be a little hesitant about when it comes to this project from SpaceX.
In theory, the idea seems amazing. Especially if you can travel across the globe in just one hour and at the same price of what it would cost to book a flight on an airline. However, there’s a lot to plan out and money that needs to be spent in order to make this idea happen.
Currently, there’s no infrastructure for this type of travel, and that means SpaceX would have to build launch pads and supply the transportation needed to take passengers to and from the launch pads that’ll be located near major cities across Earth.
Again, another great idea from SpaceX and its founder, but only time will tell how this project develops.
SpaceX Demanding Government Support
SpaceX president and chief operating officer Gwynne Shotwell called for deregulation when space industry executives recently met with White House officials at the first National Space Council since it was disbanded in 1993.
SpaceX has a lot of plans in the works to further space exploration, and that’s why during the meeting with the White House Shotwell said, “If we want to achieve rapid progress in space, the U.S. government must remove bureaucratic practices that run counter to innovation and speed.”
Getting projects streamlined takes a really long time, and that’s discouraging innovation and exploration. Right now, the U.S. has many opportunities and a wide range of projects that would make us a leader in understanding and exploring space, but all of that is hindered by slow governmental processes.
Shotwell had this to say about those processes:
Regulations written decades ago must be updated to keep pace with the new technologies and the high cadence of launch from United States if we want a strong space launch industry here at home…
America is out-innovating the rest of the world in space launch.
Now is the time to move forward with new technologies that will advance the U.S.’s place in space exploration and innovation. The dominance in space that the U.S. experienced in the ’90s is very possible today. Right now, the U.S. has an even bigger opportunity to dominate if only the government would be willing to adjust its regulations.
Currently, the regulations that are in place are extremely dated and are hindering companies like Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT), Boeing (NYSE: BA), Orbital ATK (NYSE: OA), Blue Origin, and Sierra Nevada Corporation — companies that have had a huge impact on recent space technologies and are leading the way toward change and exploration.
There’s a lot happening in space right now, and SpaceX is without a doubt one of the companies that’s dominating and fighting for innovation in the industry. I see a bigger agenda for the company in the future, along with more missions completed and more partnerships with other companies that are also looking to define themselves as space innovators.