On May 30, 2020, Elon Musk's SpaceX made history when they launched humans into space with their own commercially-made Falcon 9 booster and Crew Dragon spacecraft. It may not seem like much to someone not too in touch with space news, but it is a very important milestone in space travel because it marks the first time NASA allowed US astronauts to be launched from a commercial partner that did not use their own governmental rocket designs. Just in case I cannot attach a video to this post, here is a link showing the launch and Falcon Stage 1 landing on a drone ship: https://youtu.be/1gmvUPTdoP4
It also was the first time US astronauts blasted off into space from US soil in 9 years, which was when the last space shuttle launch took off. In the time between 2011 and 2020, NASA had been relying on Russia's Soyuz rocket to get its astronauts to the International Space Station. Because NASA had no other reasonable way to get its astronauts to space, Russia charged NASA $86 million per seat, and with ISS crew rotation occurring about every 6 months, costs added up very quickly. With SpaceX however, NASA cut costs by a large margin because SpaceX made the booster itself reusable, and because of those savings, SpaceX only charges NASA about $55 million per seat. That money, by no means small, is also better because it is going to a US company instead of a rival space force.
In other news, SpaceX also just launched its 7th batch of Starlink satellites (video link). Starlink was developed by SpaceX to provide high-speed internet to places all over the globe, leaving no area without coverage. It is said that Starlink beta testing will begin in 2020 itself with public launch available in the northern area of the globe in 2021. Starlink, when fully operational, is set to have a mega-constellation of 30,000 - 40,000 satellites in Low Earth Orbit and is predicted to generate about $10 billion per year, which would be a huge money-maker that would free up funds to be used in further innovations.
SpaceX is truly a once-in-a-lifetime company and I for one am very glad that I am around to see what it will accomplish. I wonder what else SpaceX has in store for the future.
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