Before SpaceX began knocking down accomplishment after accomplishment in domino-like fashion, the westernized world’s aerospace industry’s economic drivers largely consisted of government programs like the United States government’s NASA.
Across the various space programs of the world, the 2010’s have largely been dominated by the European Space Agency’s Ariane series of rockets. 2017 marked the first year of the dominance of SpaceX’s Falcon9 rocket with 18 successful launches, compared to just 14 from Ariane 5. 2018 is slated to bring 25 flights from SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket alone, part of a total of 70-plus flights that are planned to bring various payloads to outer space in coming years.
In just the past eight months, SpaceX has sent some 59 rockets’ payloads into space, transporting necessities, experimental devices, and fully-functional satellites to lower Earth orbit, geostationary transfer orbit, and the International Space Station.
So, how exactly has SpaceX changed the aerospace industry? While investigating all of its competitors’ adaptations and the aerospace industry’s changes to SpaceX’s recent developments might take a full-length novel’s length to detail, following are just a couple of the most substantial ways in which SpaceX has changed the aerospace industry.
Advanced the reusability of rockets – and the cost of spaceflight
Venturing into space, whether that’s low-Earth orbit or deep space, is remarkably expensive. The exorbitant cost of spaceflight isn’t nestled in one or two aspects of the trade; rather, paying full teams of tried-and-true, extensively-trained experts; developing material that’s lightweight, sturdy, and resistant to rapid changes in temperature; and designing, manufacturing, and implementing high-sensitivity instruments designed specifically for space travel are all costly.
NASA has previously stated that sending a Space Shuttle into orbit cost roughly $500 million per mission – and that’s just in the launch itself.
Although anything costing in the millions of dollars isn’t absolutely cheap, SpaceX has unarguably lowered the cost of send-offs into space. Recent statistics place the cost of a Falcon 9 mission at $62 million.
SpaceX both manufactures and launches its rockets
Until SpaceX came along, very few entities had both created and launched their own rockets. Even today, SpaceX is one of the few organizations that take on both responsibilities.
For example, the rockets behind its Falcon 9 are manufactured in its home country of the United States. SpaceX is a entity that is paving the way for aerospace to the public.