FOR THE WEEK OF APR 17, 2017
Reusable rockets save money and are likely to open a new era in space
Read coverage of technology or a breakthrough in any field and summarize what you learn.
Look for another example of recycling or a money-saving step. What do you think of it?
Try to find news about students or educators working on an imaginative, futuristic project. What skills are needed?
We've reached a milestone that sharply cuts the cost of launching satellites into space orbit. A previously flown rocket recently blasted off a second time on a test flight from Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral, Fla. – a historic feat. Earlier rockets went on one-way trips, falling helplessly into oceans to sink from sight after releasing communication satellites above Earth's atmosphere. A California company named Space X avoids that costly waste by bringing rockets back to their launchpad for upright landings using their own power.
The successful relaunch March 30 of a 10-story Falcon 9 booster rocket follows 15 years of work and $1 billion of investment to get rockets to work more like planes or the former Space Shuttle. "This is going to be ultimately a huge revolution in spaceflight," says Space X founder and chief executive Elon Musk. His firm pays NASA, the federal space agency, to use its launchpad for five years, It plans to offer lower-cost launches for the government and private satellite owners, such as communication companies and Global Positioning Service (GPS) providers. SpaceX plans to begin reusing rockets within 24 hours of landing, with just an inspection and refueling.
For now, Space X – shorthand for Space Exploration Technologies Corp. – is at the forefront of a change expected to shake up the aerospace industry. "To be competitive in launch costs, I think it's going to be necessary for other companies to do the same thing," Musk predicts. "Imagine if we were an aircraft company selling aircraft that could be flown many times, and everyone else was selling aircraft that could be flown once, I mean, you know, that's not a very competitive position to be in."
Space X says: "I'm highly confident that it's possible to achieve at least 100-fold reduction in the cost of space access.' —Elon Musk, who founded firm in 2002
NASA retiree tweets: "Reusable rockets are real!" – Bobby Braun, former space agency official who’s now dean of engineering school at the University of Colorado-Boulder
Rival firm says: "It's not obvious how [recycling rockets] will turn out, and that’s why people are trying different things. We're going to find out who's right, and that's kind of the beauty of competition." -- Tory Bruno, chief executive of a Lockheed Martin-Boeing collaboration called United Launch Alliance
Front Page Talking Points Archive
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