Thursday, 11 June 2015

The future of spaceflight

One of the major reasons space flight is so expensive is the single use of the vehicles. The analogy I have heard is like having to build aircraft that can only fly once - and so it is with spacecraft, except spacecraft are even more expensive! The space shuttle was a step towards reusable spacecraft, but the rockets were not reusable and anyway, the space shuttles have been retired. Unless this can be addressed, space flight will remain, in most cases, prohibitively expensive.

So is anyone working on the problem? NASA have tackled a different problem by building Orion, a spacecraft currently in the testing phase that will be capable of taking humans further than the Moon - perhaps Mars or an asteroid. But SpaceX, the innovative space exploration company founded by Elon Musk, has looked into the reusable rocket idea. In fact, they've gone a bit further than looking into it! Below is a real video, in real time of their F9R rocket flight test. It climbs to 1000m and then... well, give it watch...

It honestly though this was fake when I first watched it. It's like thunderbird 1! Of course it's early days but if they get this technology into a rocket that can get into space with a payload, then return to Earth and land itself as in the video above... this is a truly reusable rocket. It will vastly reduced the costs of launches because you only need to pay for the fuel - not a new rocket every time!

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