I have nothing to do with this mission, but damn do I feel proud. What peculiar beings we, humans, are. Sending into space a doll in a spacesuit, named “Starman”, seated in an electric car, with a sign “Don’t Panic” on the car’s dashboard, blasting David Bowie’s “Life On Mars?”. I’m not crying, you are.
Today is a remarkably profound day in American history, and an even more profound day for humankind.
After years of delays for perfection, SpaceX has successfully launched its FALCON HEAVY rocket, defying the force of gravity, and make its way onto an elliptical heliocentric orbit near Mars. The payload - Elon Musk’s personal midnight cherry red Tesla Roaster, with a dummy named Starman wearing a SpaceX space suit in the driver seat, playing David Bowie’s Space Oddity on repeat, with “Don’t Panic” (Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy reference) on the screen. This car is set to orbit for the next billion years, or upon destruction. This car has potential to outlive the Earth.
Now, this launch is utterly profound for too many reasons to list (although I’ll try). First and foremost, this finally begin the tangible reality of the ultimate goal of SpaceX - to make humans an interplanetary species. This rocket has the capability to take humans, to and from Mars. And although this will not be the rocket that does it, it has shown it is possible. Today marked the first move for humans going to Mars from a paper idea, to a pragmatic reality.
Furthermore, SpaceX, as a private company has entirely reconfigured space travel by its stupid-simple innovations. To simply, basically, space travel is expensive. Really expensive. Part of this reason was because the first stage and second stage (the most expensive parts of the rocket) would crash down into the ocean after use, rendering it useless. Essentially, this is like getting a new McLaren F1, to drive from NY to Boston, just to throw it away once finished. Obviously, this is extremely economicaly inefficient. However, no agency has actively sought to fix this problem because it was viewed as incorrectable, and because space travel has been dominanted by government agencies.. and as we know, government agencies spend frivolously and often don’t care about price.
What SpaceX has done to correct this giant problem was devise away to have the first stage booster descend back to Earth, and slowly and surely drop on a pad either on land or on a tracked floating device in the ocean (to understand how preposterous this is, try to imagine a 25 story building, falling from space, landing on a autonomous pad in the ocean that’s the size of a football field). This was LONG declared as impossible by numerous scientists and physicists, but despite the odds, a private company has not only managed to do this, but do successfully over 15 straight times. This was viewed IMPOSSIBLE in early 2016. Today, we viewed two boosters simultaneously land with the Falcon Heavy launch - AND these two boosters that were used today were previously recovered ones from past Falcon 9 missions. For record of how much cheaper this has made space travel:
Nasa Space Shuttle Launch - cost around 500 million
SpaceX Falcon 9 launch - cost around 50 million
The other reason why SpaceX has managed to make space travel 450 MILLION dollars cheaper is because of how it make its products. EVERYTHING IN SPACEX (and Tesla, btw) IS MADE IN HOUSE. Everything. Everything made on American soil, by American workers, IN FUCKING HOUSE. It is of course immensely difficult to build a fucking rocket from scratch, but SpaceX has perfected it. Instead of buying a computer from this company (who has to mark up to get a profit) who gets their mother board from this company (who has to mark up to get a profit) who gets their chips from this company (who has to mark up to get a profit) - everything is made IN house. As a quick example on how expensive mark up prices become after running through a few companies - A mass amount RADIOS for Tesla through a company would normally cost around 100,000 dollars, but when Musk’s team learned how to perfect it for cheaper, they brought thay price way down to 5, 000 dollars. This in house economic principle has made space travel FAR more plausible for the public then we ever could have imagined. And as SpaceX gets better, prices will continue to plummet.
After many stagnant years, there has been little to any innovation in the improvment of space travel. Since 1969 and the Apollo mission to the moon, there has been little for the public to cheer on, with regards to NASA and American space travel. However, SpaceX has given our generation a voice. It has given our generation a profound meaning. Many of us will witness the day when humans set foot on Mars, and many will witness the moment when humans first begin to colonize the red planet. Our generation has something unbelievable to stand behind - not only as a very proud nation, but as a world united. Curiosity and knowledge connects people all over the world, and traveling the cosmos and becoming an interplanetary species will have a uniting effect far greater than any of us can imagine. We are living in a very special time. Days like today will always be remember in American history, demonstrating the amazing capability of determined humans, when curiosity strikes. Lastly, it is also a reminder that many creations today were once rendered as impossible - having a Tesla flying throughout the solar system launched by the most powerful rocket currently in the world is a giant middle finger for all the thousands who have sworn that both Tesla and SpaceX would never ever be able to make it. Both began as startups with a small team of determined workers, both became near bankrupt in 2009, and today, we witness a cherry red Tesla heading into space playing David Bowie to visit the red planet. If that’s not motivating, I don’t know what is.
Two rockets landed in perfect timing while a red car carrying a dummy spaceman and a Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy reference flew for Mars with Life On Mars playing in the background. 2018 is already the greatest.