Tuesday, May 1, 2012

National Media Starting to Pay Attention to SpaceX

I'd hoped that as we draw closer to the historic SpaceX Dragon launch, we'd see more attention from the national media which for the most part has pretended that the United States no longer has a space program.

In recent days, we've seen a glimmer or two of awareness.

The Washington Post published an article today titled, "SpaceX Launch of Dragon Capsule to Space Station to Put NASA Strategy on Display."

What SpaceX and NASA hope to do is part of a plan begun under President George W. Bush and enhanced by President Obama to turn travel to and from the space station into a largely private and less costly venture, freeing up NASA to plan for deep-space journeys to asteroids, the moon and ultimately Mars.

“It’s proving to be harder and more complicated and more expensive than [SpaceX founder] Elon Musk anticipated,” said Dale Ketcham of the Spaceport Research and Policy Institute at Central Florida University. “But it’s still more efficient than NASA.”

On April 29, the Tampa Bay Times ran an article titled, "A New Era for the Space Coast."

Tourists began booking rooms weeks ago, making plans to see what is more than a routine rocket launch from Cape Canaveral.

The next chapter in U.S. space exploration should begin in about a week, when California-based Space Exploration Technologies — SpaceX for short — expects to become the first private company to send a rocket to the International Space Station. Once it perfects its delivery system for cargo, the company will turn its focus to transporting U.S. astronauts.

And CNBC posted on April 27 a feature on SpaceX and founder Elon Musk called, "Elon Musk on Why SpaceX Has the Right Stuff to Win the Space Race."

The key to SpaceX's success, assuming its equipment functions as planned, is to convince customers to pay for services on a used spacecraft.

Musk thinks each Dragon capsule could be used ten times, eventually bringing down the current price per flight of $60 million for use of the Falcon 9 rocket and $60 million for shipping cargo--and eventually humans--aboard the capsule.

SpaceX is also building a much more powerful rocket, the Falcon Heavy, which Musk believes can launch a full payload for under $1,000 a pound--"in the space industry, that's like the four minute mile."

The CNBC article also has several video clips of an interview with Musk, none of which can be embedded.

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