NASA was at its peak in 1969 when it went to the Moon. After that, it never attained the same level. But SpaceX is now changing the game.
Ever since NASA landed people on the moon between 1969 and 1972, the space administration has had a big impact on society making major contributions to industries like satellite telecommunications, GPS, remote sensing, and space access.
However, after the moon landings, nothing of that level has happened again. And for a lot of people, space exploration looked boring.
But now, scientists around the world see NASA’s partnering with Elon Musk’s SpaceX as one of the biggest advancements since the moon landings.
SpaceX’s biggest accomplishments include the first privately funded liquid-propellant rocket to reach orbit (Falcon 1 in 2008), the first private company to successfully launch, orbit, and recover a spacecraft (Dragon in 2010), the first private company to dock with the ISS (Dragon in 2012), the first vertical take-off and vertical propulsive landing for an orbital rocket (Falcon 9 in 2015), the first reuse of an orbital rocket (Falcon 9 in 2017), and the first private company to send astronauts to orbit and to the International Space Station (SpaceX Crew Dragon Demo-2 in 2020).
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While the space industry was still a game of nations, SpaceX came and changed the whole game. SpaceX proved private space agencies could do wonderful things.
On the other hand, instead of competing with SpaceX, NASA decided to partner up with the private agency. And that was the best choice.
The NASA/SpaceX partnership was a historic achievement, both because it brought human launch capability back to the United States for the first time since the shuttle program ended and because it marked the first time a non-government entity has carried astronauts off Earth.
SpaceX’s 1st astronaut launch was NASA’s most-watched online event ever, with more than 10 million people watching the launch, live.
Space was super-cool in the late 60s and early 70s, but after that, it never attained the same coolness level. Now, thanks to SpaceX in particular, space is back in the headlines and cooler than ever.
Who wouldn’t want to watch used rocket boosters land back on Earth as if they were scenes straight out of science fiction?!
Since NASA ended its space shuttle program in 2011, the agency has relied exclusively on Russia to ferry its astronauts to and from orbit in Soyuz spacecraft.
Those seats had also gotten increasingly expensive with Russia almost quadrupling its prices for NASA. And the world’s space agencies have had no alternative for launching and returning astronauts.
But NASA’s reliance on Russia’s Soyuz came to an end when crewed launches returned to U.S. soil with the flight of SpaceX’s Crew Dragon. A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying the company’s Crew Dragon spacecraft launched from Launch Complex 39A on NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2 mission to the International Space Station with NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley onboard, May 30, 2020, at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
The Demo-2 mission was proof of concept that NASA can work with commercial companies to advance human spaceflight. And not only that. Private companies like SpaceX might actually work better and faster than NASA working alone.
Now, it’s very obvious that the future of NASA’s crewed missions relies heavily on commercial partnership.
Getting astronauts to ISS, back to the Moon, and beyond, is heavily dependent upon partnering with commercial companies like SpaceX.
SpaceX is currently working on the next generation of fully reusable launch vehicles that will be the most powerful ever built. They will be capable of carrying humans to Mars and other destinations in the solar system.