What happens when sci-fi becomes more than just imagination?
Science fiction enthusiasts (all right, nerds and geeks if you want to be more accurate) will tell you that much modern technological advancements are due in part to the minds of not necessarily scientists and engineers but, in some cases, writers.
Cell phones, anyone? You can thank Gene Roddenberry and the creative minds of Star Trek, who incorporated a “communicator” into Starfleet’s main staple of equipment. Other technology from the series has resulted in real-life applications as well.
Or what about satellites that make wireless communication possible? Maybe you should thank Arthur C. Clarke, one of the “Founding Fathers of Science Fiction,” for introducing the concept of geosynchronous orbit in 1945, something that became a reality 20 years later.
I guess you could say, “no sci-fi, no Wi-Fi.”
There have always been innovators willing to propel us into the future. And while flying cars may not happen any time soon, move over, Jetsons, we have seen Earth’s Manifest Destiny and its name is SpaceX.
Space Exploration Technologies Corporation, aka SpaceX, is setting its sights on going from terra firma to extra-terrestrial. Its main mission is to “revolutionize space technology, with the ultimate goal of enabling people to live on other planets.” That’s right—LIVE on other planets. A pipe dream, you might say, but then again so was getting a man on the moon or even using a portable computer (smartphones, are everywhere if you haven’t noticed).
To understand the potential of SpaceX programs, all you have to do is watch a demonstration of their tech’s capabilities. The following is a short clip of their Grasshopper rocket:
Wow, that kind of control would make even Stark Industries jealous. Oh wait, CEO of SpaceX, Elon Musk, has already inspired Iron Man:
At first glance that might not be so impressive. You may even question if the Grasshopper video is the result of special effects and Hollywood tampering. It isn’t.
“Oh yeah, well how did they get that footage? It seems fake.” Actually, as the title of the Youtube video explains, they used a single camera hexacopter, which is able to remain stationary in flight and is great for aerial video and aerial photography. But I digress…
You have to realize that SpaceX is trying to implement reusability in a previously ineffective process. The aerospace industry constantly combats waste. Think about it: space missions rely heavily on rockets to propel cargo and personnel into orbit. And those rockets cost millions. Meanwhile, the cost of operations is in the billions. Only through innovation and ingenuity can these costs be curbed.
It’s hypocritical to spend immeasurable amounts of time and resources on preserving our planet through green technology (not to mention efforts like recycling) and then be so careless with space exploration. Disposable rockets? Not if SpaceX has anything to say or do about it.
With more precision landing, the Grasshopper offers hope that reusability is a distinct possibility for aeronautics. And with reusability comes sustainability—not only sustaining of programs but maybe one-day in the future, the sustaining of life on other planets.