SpaceX Leading the Way for Privatized Space Flight
Some big headlines in the news this week in regards to the progress of privatized space flight! NASA retired its shuttle, the Discovery, with a final flight over Washinton D.C. and will now be placed in the Smithsonian for display. This marked the end of an era for the American space program. NASA is not dormant though. They still have some operational shuttles and continue to perform research and collect data from what they already have in use. It’s unfortunate that the US government cut the funding for this program, especially since it only takes half of a percent of American tax dollars. But maybe its for the better, after all, it was the inconsistent administrative funding that has been holding NASA back from reaching further heights of discovery.
NASA always suffered from the dead hand of government. So long as its funding was tied to national politics and priorities, it could never really do what it needed to do. And because its goal was pure research (scientific or military), it didn’t build a commercial base for its operations. That’s the future of spaceflight.
Despite the financial woes, America’s space programs still stand at the top, as exemplified by North Korea’s embarrassing rocket launch this month that sputtered and plunged into the ocean. The burden of space advancement now lies heavily in the private sector with companies like SpaceX and Virgin Galactic. SpaceX made headlines this week as they prepare to test their new project, The Dragon spacecraft, which intends to be a line of cargo carriers that will contract with multiple international space programs to transport materials to satellites and the space station. There are many other companies such as Virgin Galactic that focus on the commercial end of space travel and will be aiming to provide travel and leisure trips into outer space. All these private companies must participate in excessive detailed testing in order to ensure their safety, even more than government programs because a single accident could lead to the demise of their company. But with great risk comes great reward as we could see the dream of commercial space flight become a reality within our lifetime. As technology continues to advance and the wealthy continue to fund this exploration, there is no reason why this could not be a definite experience in the years to come.