This week, I’m featuring an excerpt from Lawrence Hebb’s series, Spaceship Earth. This one is entitled 50 Years On and can be found in its entirity at https://hubpages.com/education/Spaceship-Earth-Fifty-years-on . I know you’ll enjoy it,
. . . One of the biggest barriers to space exploration has been the expense. The cost of putting a rocket into space literally ‘astronomical’ in more ways than one.
Up until recently the cost of launching a satellite into near-earth orbit was a mouth-watering $150 million plus! But recently a few visionaries took a look at that expense and realised the answer lay in recycling!
What if you could recycle 90% of the parts used in launching a satellite? Just land them again, check them, refuel and re-launch.
Now those barriers are dropping away, and the possibilities are beginning to open up. SpaceX has predicted that the cost of launching a satellite like this could drop from $150 million to literally less than $1 million, but things are changing even more as time goes on.
Right now, both SpaceX and Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin are building spacecraft that will use this technology to go even further than we’ve ever gone before, further and further into the heavens, and they’re using the profits from commercial ventures launching satellites and contracts with NASA (saving NASA money by the way).
Giving an idea of costs and savings. The Space shuttle cost $450 million per launch for astronauts to get into space, this was for a crew of up to eight.
When the Russians took over, their craft were older, but the costs for a three-man flight was $150-170 million.
Those costs are plummeting right now, SpaceX says it’s latest rocket (the Falcon Heavy) costs $90 Million and can take up to eight once it gets certified for Human spaceflight.
And that’s just one company, Both Boeing and Blue Origin are also driving for re-useable spacecraft and that will drive costs even further down. . .