Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Not Quite Landing on the Moon...But Still Impressive

This past week SpaceX, a company founded by Elon Musk, was the first company to successfully land part of their spacecraft on a drone in the Atlantic Ocean.  For those who are not familiar with space travel, this may seem an insignificant feat, however, it is a monumental moment in space travel history.  On Friday April 8th, SpaceX landed a used rocket booster on a drone platform stationed in the Atlantic.  
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The part that landed on the drone is the booster responsible for getting rockets off the ground.  Once the rocket has successfully taken off, and is well on its way towards space, the largest booster is then released and begins a fall back to Earth.  In the past, this booster feel back down to Earth and was destroyed on impact, meaning an entire new booster would needed for any further launches.  This specific booster, the largest and most expensive part of the spacecraft, costs millions and millions of dollars to produce.  Due to SpaceX’s successful landing on a drone, they will be able to reuse this booster, saving millions of dollars each launch. 

 Currently SpaceX is contracting with NASA to run supply missions to the International Space Station when needed.  To date, SpaceX has conducted over a dozen resupply missions to the International Space Station as well as other operations putting satellites into orbit.  While SpaceX has been successful through its contract with NASA, this is not the company’s end goal.  Elon Musk, SpaceX CEO and Lead Designer, has more ambitious goals in mind.  His goal is to be routinely sending private citizens into space on commercial space “flights” in order to give the “average” person (quotations because the commercial flights will cost over a million dollars per seat) a chance to travel to space.  Beyond that, Musk has more lofty ambitions.  Ultimately, Elon Musk wants to send people to Mars on SpaceX flights, beginning to colonization of that planet.

Musk believes the booster landing this last week was a step towards achieving his goal of sending manned spaceships to Mars.  After the landing, he was quoted as saying, “I think its another step towards the stars.  In order for us to really open up access to space, we’ve got to achieve full and rapid reusability.”

As we have discussed in class, many creative people create new realms all into themselves.  In business this is called the Blue Ocean Strategy.  Elon Musk is a well-oiled machine when it comes to creating companies who fit under this strategy.  First, he created Tesla, the first and best all-electric vehicle, and now, SpaceX.  His dreams of sending private citizens into space were ground breaking.  Up until that point, no one had even dreamed such an idea.  Now, an entire industry has been created, with some of businesses biggest names chiming in.  All of this is possible because of the Musk’s creative and visionary leadership.             


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