SpaceX, the American aerospace manufacturer and space transportation services company founded by Elon Musk, has been making headlines in recent years for its ambitious goals of colonizing Mars and making space travel more accessible. However, the company’s impact on space science and research goes beyond just its futuristic plans. SpaceX’s reusable rockets have been instrumental in supporting space science and research, providing a more cost-effective and efficient way of launching payloads into space.
Traditionally, rockets used for space missions were designed to be used only once, with the majority of the rocket falling back to Earth and becoming useless after launch. This meant that each launch required a new rocket to be built, which was a costly and time-consuming process. However, SpaceX’s reusable rockets have changed the game, allowing for the same rocket to be used multiple times, significantly reducing the cost of each launch.
This cost reduction has been a game-changer for space science and research, as it has made it more affordable to launch scientific payloads into space. This has opened up new opportunities for research and exploration, as scientists can now launch more experiments and instruments into space without breaking the bank.
One example of the benefits of SpaceX’s reusable rockets for space science and research is the launch of the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) in 2018. TESS is a NASA mission designed to search for exoplanets, or planets outside our solar system, using the transit method. The transit method involves measuring the slight dimming of a star’s light as a planet passes in front of it, allowing scientists to detect the presence of a planet.
TESS was launched on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, which was able to land back on Earth after the launch. This saved NASA millions of dollars in launch costs, which could then be put towards the scientific mission itself. TESS has since discovered thousands of exoplanet candidates, including some that may be potentially habitable.
Another example of the benefits of SpaceX’s reusable rockets for space science and research is the launch of the SpaceX Dragon spacecraft, which is used to resupply the International Space Station (ISS). The Dragon spacecraft is launched on a Falcon 9 rocket and is able to return to Earth with scientific samples and experiments from the ISS. This allows scientists to study the effects of microgravity on various materials and organisms, which has important implications for space exploration and human health.
In addition to its reusable rockets, SpaceX has also been working on developing the Starship spacecraft, which is designed to be fully reusable and capable of carrying up to 100 people to Mars. While the Starship is still in development, it has the potential to revolutionize space exploration and make it more accessible to the general public.
Overall, SpaceX’s reusable rockets have been a game-changer for space science and research, providing a more cost-effective and efficient way of launching payloads into space. This has opened up new opportunities for research and exploration, allowing scientists to launch more experiments and instruments into space without breaking the bank. With the development of the Starship spacecraft, the future of space exploration looks even more promising.