It’s a big step for affordable space flight

Getting people and equipment into space is an expensive business, and it’s far from easy. Take away all of the calculations, planning, and hundreds of people that all have to work together, and there’s still one basic problem – breaking the gravity’s hold. To get anything into orbit around the earth, it has to reach speeds of about 4.9 miles per second or 17,600 mph. To do this, we’ve traditionally used multiple-stage rockets, in which the first stage does most of the legwork while the second stage completes the job. First stage rockets, until now, have generally been one-use items, but Elon Musk and SpaceX just made the first major step in making spaceflight significantly cheaper.

See, SpaceX’s idea of space travel means having a reusable rocket for the initial take off into the great unknown. Once our shuttles, satellites, or whatever else were sending is high enough, that rocket falls back to earth and lands to be prepped for another mission. SpaceX just proved it was possible and became the first private company ever to reuse a rocket to send something into space. For this mission, SpaceX launched the SES-10 satellite into orbit with Falcon 9, a rocket that has been used once already. The whole mission was a complete success from the pre-launch sequence, to landing, to the deployment of SES-10. It’s a tremendous feat for SpaceX and potentially for humanity as we may soon be able to get into space much cheaper than before.

To put that into perspective, it is estimated to cost anywhere between $50 million and $400 million to launch a satellite into space. It can cost in excess of $500 million to send a space shuttle into space. But, if SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket proves to be reusable over the long term, it could drop launch prices down to as low as $5-$7 million. Musk has even said that the potential cost reduction in the long term is “probably in excess of a factor of 100.” That’s a pretty big deal if you ask me. With that said, you can click play to watch SpaceX make the history books. Hint: Skip forward to about 17:30 to see the final countdown.


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