As Nobel-prize-winning physicist (and inventor of the laser) Arthur Leonard Schawlow once said, “Anything worth doing is worth doing twice, the first time quick and dirty and the second time the best way you can.” Elon Musk has apparently taken that axiom to heart.
On Saturday, the Tesla and SpaceX CEO announced his reusable space-travel capsule, Starship, will soon be ready for a second launch after its successful maiden voyage earlier this year.
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle… And Relaunch?
The space race has fundamentally changed. No longer is it an impressive feat to merely reach orbit, a spaceship must now be able to safely land and launch again to stand out among its peers. That’s the secret sauce behind Musk’s SpaceX, which saw its reusable heavy-lift launch vehicle Starship successfully touch down for the first time in May after four previous attempts ended unsuccessfully (read: in catastrophic explosions).
Musk now says the rocket will be ready to take flight again in a matter of weeks, as SpaceX awaits regulatory approval in the meantime. It’s a major step for the company, which already has plenty of big plans on deck for the near future:
- In April, NASA awarded SpaceX a $2.9 billion contract to construct the first commercial human landing system to bring American astronauts back to the lunar surface; SpaceX beat out Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin for the contract.
- Upon securing regulatory approval, Starship’s second launch will offer space investors and enthusiasts another gaze at the underlying tech that has, in part, skyrocketed SpaceX to a $74-billion valuation in February.
Outside of NASA and the defense department, SpaceX has another high-profile contract on the horizon: to fly Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa (along with eight lucky guests) on a trip around the moon. Maezawa personally paid for the trip, which is scheduled to launch in 2023.
Rocketing Past The Competition: While Bezos’ Blue Origins made headlines this summer for successfully shuttling the billionaire to space and back, another of SpaceX’s chief rivals, Boeing has been beset by flight delays. The latest: the launch of its space capsule, Starliner is now indefinitely postponed after initial July 30th departure plans were scrapped. Can Boeing shareholders fly standby on SpaceX?