The future of space may finally be here. From JFK’s famous speech challenging man to go to the moon (which PolisPandit wrote about here), to SpaceX’s recent test flight of the Falcon Heavy rocket, humanity may finally be moving forward in space technology after a long drought (and the end of NASA’s shuttle program in 2011).
The most intriguing aspect of the Falcon Heavy test flight was the safe return of the two expended rocket boosters. Both boosters landed upright as planned. Although a third booster failed to land on a robotic drone ship at sea, the implication of this test is clear: the prospect of reusing boosters after launch would not only cut down on costs, but would help preserve the environment as well. Think of the waste created by boosters over the years, and the floating garbage dump of other cosmic trash (e.g., discarded satellites) that perpetually orbit the Earth.
For a visual of the boosters’ safe return, see below.
In addition to the safe return of its expended side boosters, the Falcon Heavy test also brings hope that humans may be able to reach Mars sooner than expected. The rocket is essentially a supersize version of the Falcon 9, which SpaceX uses to shuttle supplies to the International Space Station on behalf of the U.S. government. With three times the thrust of the Falcon 9 rocket, the Falcon Heavy has the capability of transporting some 37,000 pounds all the way to Mars.
Hopefully this is only the beginning for the Falcon Heavy and SpaceX. Humanity should already be on Mars, especially considering that we made it to the moon for the first time almost 50 years ago. At least the Falcon Heavy gives us a little hope.