Space exploration has picked up speed the last few years. It’s no longer NASA or ISRO or other governmental agencies which are conducting research into various aspects of space, but companies like Blue Origin and SpaceX, which are looking into colonization aspects and space travel. Blue Origin, the company founded by The Washington Post and Amazon, and SpaceX, founded by Elon Musk, founder of PayPal are focusing on lowering spaceflight costs to make space travel more attractive and feasible for us. Read on to find out more about the progress of these two companies:
The goals of SpaceX
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SpaceX founded by Elon Musk has Mars in its sights. Elon Musk’s vision is to colonize Mars, as he is of the opinion that Earth may no longer be habitable in the future due to many reasons, and if we don’t expand beyond Earth’s frontiers we might be in deep trouble. He believes that anything is possible, super volcano or asteroids could destroy Earth, manmade virus attacks or any nuclear experiment going wrong or global warming increasing to such levels that everything on Earth would be destroyed.
He started SpaceX with $100 million and his workers worked 90 hours weeks to bring his plans to fruition. They supposedly suffered a huge burn rate and Musk hired many people to work on his project. His tremendous speed of working depleted his finances and almost was bankrupt. Until, SpaceX won a contract worth $1.6 billion from NASA in 2008, which saved the company. This began the creation of the reusable rockets and the fourth launch was successful.
Till now, SpaceX has landed four rockets back to Earth from space, three of which landed in the sea and one landed on land.
Orbital flight is SpaceX’s objective
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The measure of success for SpaceX is to launch rockets into orbit and stay in orbit, with orbital velocity of 17,400 mph at a circular orbit of 200km. Due to the target of reaching orbital flight, the flight speed of 7,780 m/s affects size, design, engine power and mass. Falcon 9, SpaceX’s rocket reaches to Mach 7.5.
SpaceX will also ferry NASA astronauts to ISS which will reduce the dependence of America on Russia. SpaceX also has ambitious plans to send an unmanned spacecraft to Mars by 2018.
This would further Elon Musk’s vision of humanity being a multi-planet species.
Goals of Blue Origin
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Jeff Bezos, Blue Origin’s founder explained in a white paper that his company will focus on delivering equipment which would be required by moon settlers. His cargo service would help human colonization of the moon. Bezos’s favourite parking spot on the moon is close to Shackleton Crater on the Moon’s South Pole, which is prime real estate on the moon, as it has sunlight constantly and water which can be a potential source of hydrogen required for rockets’
He also said that his project would need NASA’s help to be successful. He wants to invest his money along with NASA to work on his commercial cargo delivery to the moon. Test flights with crew on board and space flight for paying passengers will begin soon, perhaps as early as 2018. Six Blue Origin rockets would be built to fly 6 passengers more than 100km above Earth, where they would see Earth set in Space, and experience weightlessness.
Blue Origin focuses on suborbital flight
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New Shepard, Blue Origin’s rocket has been designed to reach suborbital flight, which is velocity Mach 3. Gravity acts on suborbital rockets and pulls them down back to the surface of the Earth.
According to insiders, Blue Origin has flown the same rocket multiple times and we can expect the company to make weekly trips to space and they would be probably the first ones in history to be doing that.
Rockets that can be used again and again are vital in the progress of the space race, as this would bring down the waste and costs to a great extent in the space industry. Millions are wasted after each launch, when rockets cannot be used again.
SpaceX and Blue Origin may have different goals but their research into colonizing space may see humans living and travelling in space sooner than expected.