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What Does SpaceX's Reusable Rocket Mean for Space Travel?
SpaceX, the private company with big dreams for manned spaceflight, has launched a partly used rocket into orbit at a lower cost than building a brand new one.
Not too long ago, a major milestone in spaceflight took place. SpaceX, the private company with big dreams for manned spaceflight, launched a partly used rocket into orbit at a lower cost than building a brand new one.
If that report doesn’t fill you with a sense of awe, wonder, and hope for the future of spaceflight, allow us to fix that right now.
The last major attempt at a reusable spacecraft was NASA’s Space Shuttle. However, the promised ultra-low cost of the space shuttle never materialized, as the costs of refurbishing the crafts between launches ending up eating up any potential savings.
While the true cost savings of a reusable Falcon 9 rocket are presently unknown, a SpaceX executive has proposed that future launches with reused boosters could have the sticker price reduced by a third. Not bad considering that would amount to twenty million dollars per launch.
But, why is this as important as we say it is?
There is currently a new space race going on, one that Big Think has mentioned previously. While there is reason enough to be excited, the high costs of this space race are still a hindrance and reality check to the dreams of space exploration. Even something as simple as being able to reuse a portion of a spacecraft, and therefore lower the costs of operation, is a major step forward in the feasibility of other dreams.
Best case, the often seen idea of inexpensive commercial spaceflight to Earth's orbit could soon become feasible, as innovation and competition drives down costs. Even if this was only to be a moderate success, space flight will soon become much more feasible for commercial operations.
Now, this rocket is limited. It is designed strictly for orbital flights, so you can forget about getting to Mars anytime soon. Secondly, the lower cost of a reused rocket is being pitched towards potential customers for orbital flights — but this is only going to be successful if the customers for orbital flights, like telecommunications companies, are willing to have their expensive hardware flown in a pre-owned rocket. If you know the fear of getting burned on a used car, imagine that sensation being applied to a spacecraft.
And this could end up just being hype, the United Launch Alliance has previously investigated the feasibility of reusable rockets and found that the reductions to maximum payload outweighed the benefits of reduced launching prices. NASA has also declared that having reusable components was not a major concern in the planning of their new S.L.S rocket.
OK, so this is just step one?
Yes, but a big one. If future launches of the Falcon 9 support the feasibility of recycled rockets the price of orbital space flight is likely to take a tumble and the likelihood of SpaceX’s dreams of Martian colonies will increase. Elon Musk speaks for all of us when he said, “We just had an incredible day today.”
What is human dignity? Here's a primer, told through 200 years of great essays, lectures, and novels.
- Human dignity means that each of our lives have an unimpeachable value simply because we are human, and therefore we are deserving of a baseline level of respect.
- That baseline requires more than the absence of violence, discrimination, and authoritarianism. It means giving individuals the freedom to pursue their own happiness and purpose.
- We look at incredible writings from the last 200 years that illustrate the push for human dignity in regards to slavery, equality, communism, free speech and education.
The inherent worth of all human beings<p>Human dignity is the inherent worth of each individual human being. Recognizing human dignity means respecting human beings' special value—value that sets us apart from other animals; value that is intrinsic and cannot be lost.</p> <p>Liberalism—the broad political philosophy that organizes society around liberty, justice, and equality—is rooted in the idea of human dignity. Liberalism assumes each of our lives, plans, and preferences have some unimpeachable value, not because of any objective evaluation or contribution to a greater good, but simply because they belong to a human being. We are human, and therefore deserving of a baseline level of respect. </p> <p>Because so many of us take human dignity for granted—just a fact of our humanness—it's usually only when someone's dignity is ignored or violated that we feel compelled to talk about it. </p> <p>But human dignity means more than the absence of violence, discrimination, and authoritarianism. It means giving individuals the freedom to pursue their own happiness and purpose—a freedom that can be hampered by restrictive social institutions or the tyranny of the majority. The liberal ideal of the good society is not just peaceful but also pluralistic: It is a society in which we respect others' right to think and live differently than we do.</p>
From the 19th century to today<p>With <a href="https://books.google.com/ngrams/graph?year_start=1800&year_end=2019&content=human+dignity&corpus=26&smoothing=3&direct_url=t1%3B%2Chuman%20dignity%3B%2Cc0" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Google Books Ngram Viewer</a>, we can chart mentions of human dignity from 1800-2019.</p><img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDg0ODU0My9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY1MTUwMzE4MX0.bu0D_0uQuyNLyJjfRESNhu7twkJ5nxu8pQtfa1w3hZs/img.png?width=980" id="7ef38" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="9974c7bef3812fcb36858f325889e3c6" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
American novelist, writer, playwright, poet, essayist and civil rights activist James Baldwin at his home in Saint-Paul-de-Vence, southern France, on November 6, 1979.
Credit: Ralph Gatti/AFP via Getty Images
The future of dignity<p>Around the world, people are still working toward the full and equal recognition of human dignity. Every year, new speeches and writings help us understand what dignity is—not only what it looks like when dignity is violated but also what it looks like when dignity is honored. In his posthumous essay, Congressman Lewis wrote, "When historians pick up their pens to write the story of the 21st century, let them say that it was your generation who laid down the heavy burdens of hate at last and that peace finally triumphed over violence, aggression and war."</p> <p>The more we talk about human dignity, the better we understand it. And the sooner we can make progress toward a shared vision of peace, freedom, and mutual respect for all. </p>
Scientists find that bursts of gamma rays may exceed the speed of light and cause time-reversibility.
- Astrophysicists propose that gamma-ray bursts may exceed the speed of light.
- The superluminal jets may also be responsible for time-reversibility.
- The finding doesn't go against Einstein's theory because this effect happens in the jet medium not a vacuum.
Jet bursting out of a blazar. Black-hole-powered galaxies called blazars are the most common sources detected by NASA's Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope.
Cosmic death beams: Understanding gamma ray bursts<div class="rm-shortcode" data-media_id="cu2knVEk" data-player_id="FvQKszTI" data-rm-shortcode-id="c6cfd20fdf31c82cb206ade8ce21ba3f"> <div id="botr_cu2knVEk_FvQKszTI_div" class="jwplayer-media" data-jwplayer-video-src="https://content.jwplatform.com/players/cu2knVEk-FvQKszTI.js"> <img src="https://cdn.jwplayer.com/thumbs/cu2knVEk-1920.jpg" class="jwplayer-media-preview" /> </div> <script src="https://content.jwplatform.com/players/cu2knVEk-FvQKszTI.js"></script> </div>
Researchers dramatically improve the accuracy of a number that connects fundamental forces.
- A team of physicists carried out experiments to determine the precise value of the fine-structure constant.
- This pure number describes the strength of the electromagnetic forces between elementary particles.
- The scientists improved the accuracy of this measurement by 2.5 times.
The process for measuring the fine-structure constant involved a beam of light from a laser that caused an atom to recoil. The red and blue colors indicate the light wave's peaks and troughs, respectively.
Scientists at Washington University are patenting a new electrolyzer designed for frigid Martian water.
- Mars explorers will need more oxygen and hydrogen than they can carry to the Red Planet.
- Martian water may be able to provide these elements, but it is extremely salty water.
- The new method can pull oxygen and hydrogen for breathing and fuel from Martian brine.