One of the greatest sales pitch from SpaceX was the reusability of their spacecraft.
Now that they’re abandoning this idea, will Boeing rise on top, since they will stick with the reusability concept?
The Famous SpaceX and Elon Musk
The revolutionary space company led by Elon Musk has been famous exactly for the ambitious goals that are slowly being abandoned.
Quietly, SpaceX decided that the Dragon capsule to send astronauts to the ISS won’t be able to be reused. Before that, they abandoned the idea of making it land on the ground at a previously set location, which meant that the capsule would land on the drone ship.
Earlier in July, media reports showed that the concept of propulsive landing on the ground was not safe for the crew on board, so they had to switch to landing in the ocean.
This is where the idea of reusability is ditched, explains Loren Thompson, Forbes’ private sector consultant:
“What SpaceX has learned conducting unmanned cargo missions into low-Earth orbit is that it takes a long time to refurbish spacecraft once they have been immersed in salt water. Maybe up to a year. And it’s expensive.”
However, Thompson explains that the capsule that took astronauts to the ISS and back to Earth could carry cargo to low orbit. They will reuse it, but for a different purpose – and without a crew on board.
Meanwhile, Boeing’s Starliner Will Be Reusable
Unfortunately for Musk’s ego, Boeing will continue with the idea of reusing the Starliner capsule, which will land on the ground. Boeing has worked on the NASA’s Space Shuttle program, so they could succeed in reaching their goal.
Moreover, after astronaut Garrett Reisman left SpaceX last year, Boeing is the only US company with an astronaut in the team – Chris Ferguson.
The US agency is preoccupied with Mars and Moon missions, turning to commercial companies to fly astronauts to the ISS, without the need to count on Russian rockets in the future. But this also means that NASA has to supervise and certificate commercial space flights and make sure the spacecraft is fit and safe to fly astronauts.
Andre Blair s is the lead editor for Advocator.ca. He holds a B.A. in Psychology from the University of Toronto, and a Master of Science in Public Health (M.S.P.H.) from the School of Public Health, Department of Health Administration, at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Andre specializes in environmental health, but writes on a variety of issues.