Earlier this week, SpaceX made history. Again.
Blue Origin, which is the baby of Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, has been providing Elon Musk’s SpaceX some stiff competition. A few weeks ago, Blue Origin sent up the New Shepard rocket — and returned it to earth vertically.
This week, SpaceX pulled ahead, sending its Falcon 9 up beyond New Shepard’s suborbital heights, putting eleven (count ’em: 11) satellites into orbit . . . and returning to touch down safely onto dry land — on the launch pad — vertically.
Just like we imagined when we (well, some of us oldsters) were young, before we witnessed Mercury and Apollo splashdowns.
Back in 2012, when I wrote about SpaceX — and NASA’s outsourcing of launches — I called it progress. One reader worried about the whole thing, though: “A spy satellite is still a spy satellite even if some telecom conglomerate puts it in space.” He was afraid of privatizing tyranny. That would be bad, but it doesn’t seem to apply to this week’s new satellites . . . unless M2M (machine-to-machine) Internet devices mean something different than what I understand them to be.
In any case, costs have been contained: while NASA’s Space Shuttle was also reusable, it cost about half a billion bucks per launch, which, we’re told, is “about eight times the current cost of a Falcon 9.”
Free enterprise: delivering the goods at a fraction of the cost.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.