Monday, August 15, 2011

I am going to write more about SpaceX

Why? Because of all the people out there, I think that Elon Musk seems to have gotten it right.

He is dedicated to the proposition of making access to space affordable. I would compare him to Henry Ford. There are those who compare him to Steve Jobs, but I think Ford is a better comparison. Steve Jobs may have brought computers to more people, but his computers weren't the ones that got mass marketed on a grand scale. It was the IBM PC, and the subsequent PC clones that really did that.

Ford made the automobile affordable with the Model T. It may well be possible that, if he didn't do this, the automobile would still be a mere curiosity. They'd still be around, but they'd be too expensive for most people to own. Many people in the world still don't have an auto. It took someone like Henry Ford to bring the auto to the masses with an affordable car. The same kind of thing will have to happen with space. I think that Musk on the right track of doing that.

One thing that will be necessary for space affordability will be the re-usability issue. Musk is addressing that, and ultimately will be successful. I think that the problem is solvable. It may not be an easy problem, but it is a solvable one. Once that problem is solved, the main affordable issue will have been addressed.

This was attempted with the Shuttle, but it was a mixed success. The orbiter could be reused as well as the solid rocket boosters, but the external tank got discarded. The second problem was turnaround time. It simply took too long to get the Shuttle ready for the next flight. Other problems were safety issues, with the loss of two shuttles.

The bigger challenge with the Falcon could be in getting a really fast turnaround time. Simply recovering the spent stages isn't enough if it takes a long time to refurbish them for the next launch.

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