American Ingenuity and Capitalism’s Finest
WASHINGTON – A high-tech entrepreneur unveiled plans Tuesday to launch the world’s most powerful rocket since man went to the moon.
Space Exploration Technology has already sent the first private rocket and capsule into Earth’s orbit as a commercial venture. It is now planning a rocket that could lift twice as much cargo into orbit as the soon-to-be-retired space shuttle.
The first launch is slotted for 2013 from California with follow-up launches from Cape Canaveral in Florida.
Space X’s new rocket called Falcon Heavy is big enough to send cargo or even people out of Earth’s orbit to the moon, an asteroid or Mars. Only the long retired Saturn V rocket that sent men to the moon was bigger.
“This is a rocket of truly huge scale,” said Space X president Elon Musk, who also founded PayPal and manufactures electric sports cars.
The Falcon Heavy could put 117,000 pounds into the same orbit as the International Space Station. The space shuttle hauls about 54,000 pounds into orbit. The old Saturn V could carry more than 400,000 pounds of cargo.
The old Soviet Union had a giant moon rocket bigger than the Falcon Heavy, but it failed in all four launch attempts. Another Soviet rocket, also bigger than Falcon Heavy and designed to launch its version of the space shuttle, had one successful flight more than 20 years ago.
While the new Space X rocket is designed initially for cargo, it satisfies NASA’s current safety requirements for carrying humans and after several launches could carry people too, Musk said. He has said that if NASA does buy rides on commercial rockets, he would be able to fly astronauts to the space station in his smaller Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon capsule within three years.
Potential customers for the new larger rocket are NASA, the military, other governments and satellite makers. [my emphasis]
And it’s a fine thing, too. This is whom we are. This is America. These are Americans; and perhaps even foreigners with the American Spirit. Not the crud which passes for politics of late in this nation. Not government funding, or some bureaucratic wasteland. But ingenuity and capitalism. As Reagan said “I can” is part of American.
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