NASA Will Allow SpaceX to Send Used Rockets to the ISS

Monday, 30 October 2017 - 5:55PM
Technology
SpaceX
NASA
Monday, 30 October 2017 - 5:55PM
NASA Will Allow SpaceX to Send Used Rockets to the ISS
NASA
Elon Musk's ongoing plans to conquer space have taken a huge leap forward, as after months of lobbying NASA to gain permission to send their equipment up to the ISS, SpaceX has finally achieved their goal and convinced the space agency that their used rocket, Falcon 9, is safe for transport.

It's been a long road for SpaceX to get to this point. For several years now, the company has been working to perfect vertical takeoffs and landing - and, in all fairness, the road to success has been a little bumpy, and incredibly explosive.



Now, though, with twelve successful launches this year and a smattering of private clients, SpaceX seems to have established its reputation as a reliable and very cheap way of getting things to and from space.

In order to gain NASA's approval, engineers at SpaceX had to prove that their reusable rocket was really up to task - this involved a lengthy approval process, with a thorough examination and assessment of the Falcon 9 rocket, and three test flights to prove that SpaceX really can be trusted to take sensitive, expensive NASA equipment into orbit on a used rocket.

Compared with many organizations, NASA is particularly strict about safety and security on their missions. The fact that SpaceX has gained the space agency's approval - and with a rocket that has been previously used for missions dozens of times - shows just how much work has gone into proving that the Falcon 9 is spaceworthy.

It's not completely unusual for NASA to greenlight a third party space launch, as the agency has been piggybacking on Russian rockets for years. But this is a big step forward in the ongoing space race between some of the biggest, most wealthy companies in the world as they vie to establish extra-terrestrial space haulage and passenger services.

Once SpaceX has proven to NASA that they can be trusted with precious cargo, the next step will be ferrying living astronauts to and from the ISS. This is something that NASA anticipates happening sooner or later - SpaceX already has a contract to perform such rocket launches - but NASA's stringent safety protocols have led to delays. No astronauts will be blasted off into orbit until SpaceX proves themselves capable of doing so with as little risk as possible, so it's just cargo for the time being.

Nevertheless, it seems that the company is up to the challenge, and with SpaceX now gaining NASA's approval for non-human transport missions, it's likely only a matter of time before commercial passenger space flight becomes a reality. Let's all just hope that there's a Groupon deal or something in the future to help the rest of us afford space travel as well, since we certainly don't all have government funding.
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