When founded in June of 2002, the ultimate goal of the Space Exploration and Technologies Corporation was to manufacture and launch advanced spacecraft, to revolutionize space technology and to eventually enable human life on planets other than our own.
Since then, the program has gained significant attention worldwide thanks to several milestones that they have reached. For instance, in December of 2010, SpaceX became the first and only private company to return a spacecraft from a low-Earth orbit. In addition, in 2012, their spacecraft known as Dragon attached to the International Space Station, exchanged cargo and returned safely to Earth. Previously, only government run crafts had been able to perform this technically challenging task.
The list of impressive accomplishments doesn’t stop there for SpaceX, but regardless of the past, the program has many plans for the future. Currently under construction is the Falcon Heavy, the latest of SpaceX’s rockets. Falcon Heavy will be the most powerful rocket known to man. Plus, the last modifications are being made to make Dragon crew-ready, thanks to a $440 million agreement with NASA.
Furthermore, SpaceX continues to work towards one of their key goals since their commencement. This goal is the development of a reusable rocket which would revolutionize space travel as we know it, considering the delivery of incredibly reliable vehicles at a fraction of the cost.
Once developed, a reusable rocket could work like a ferry, taking people to and from Mars. In fact, the billionaire CEO and founder of SpaceX, Elon Musk, aims to start a colony of up to 80,000 people on the Red Planet for roughly $550,000 per trip. This ambitious Mars settlement would commence with a pioneer group of ten or fewer people, who would voyage to the planet via an immense, reusable rocket powered by methane and liquid oxygen.
An outpost on Mars would serve as an insurance policy, making humanity’s extinction extremely unlikely if an apocalyptic type event took place on Earth. Musk eventually hopes for humanity to be a multi-planet species.
Until this point, only fantasies have existed regarding life off Earth. SpaceX presents the human race with its first real chance to find a new home, a home off planet, which is reminiscent of the goal of the Starship Enterprise from Star Trek; “To explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no man has gone before.” The future is exciting. For the first time in our history, space truly is, the final frontier.