Musk and Dragons

It’s somewhat amazing to me that we’ve witnessed the first private spacecraft to go into orbit, dock with an orbital facility, and return successfully to earth.

http://www.nasa.gov/exploration/commercial/cargo/spacex_index.html

Sure, the US, Russia, and other national governments have managed this. They’ve been doing it for decades. And yes, NASA (and thus the US government) has provided around $500 million to make this a reality – but NASA didn’t design the rocket, or the capsule (even if many of its former engineers did). This is a completely new vehicle and propulsion system – designed from the ground up.

And SpaceX did it in 10 years. That’s astounding. From founding to full demonstration (minus human occupants), they did in a single decade what has taken countries like China many times longer than that to develop, and with a much better, more versatile end product.

Say what you will about Elon Musk, about the demise of the shuttle program – this is the future. I can think of no better use for NASA’s budget than seed funding and cargo contracts for an eccentric billionaire who wants to retire on Mars.

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