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SPACE-X and Our Space Economy

Despite our fascination with outer space for decades, the promise of commercial space travel remains difficult to attain. However, that may have all changed two weeks ago, when two NASA astronauts were sent into orbit in a SPACE-X rocket. The first major launch in nearly ten years, the mission took place during an unusual time – the COVID-19 outbreak was looming large, and the killing of George Floyd was sparking protests against systemic racism in America. A much-welcomed break from upsetting news headlines, NASA hoped this launch would excite Americans about the future of space travel that lies ahead. A couple of months ago, NASA also announced endeavors in the form of financial partnerships with other private companies like SPACE-X, which is owned by Elon Musk. Other partnerships include plans to work with Boeing to engineer a commercial crew rocket. The rocket that was launched two weeks ago was a SPACE-X Crew Dragon and Falcon 9 rocket booster. Fueled by the momentum from this launch, the development of all this space technology seems exciting. However, we must take a step back from our ambitious goals and consider the costs. By the end of this year, the size of our space economy is estimated to be around 250 billion dollars. NASA claims that in the next decade, space exploration, commercial travel, and space relations will grow so much that the new industry will be worth about 805 billion dollars. Moreover, since the last launch, the US has been paying over 80 million dollars to Russia for every NASA astronaut that flies out to the ISS, or International Space Station. In the upcoming future, NASA plans to cut back on costs and use the Crew Dragon (Dragon 2) spacecraft to frequently fly their astronauts to the ISS. The cost per NASA astronaut on these trips will only be about 55 million dollars compared to the current 80 million dollar figure. If successful, NASA can allocate the rest of their money towards other exploratory missions and hopefully developments in space tourism as well. NASA claimed that “Space tourism is likely to be a common reality in the not-too-distant future.” After seeing NASA and SPACE-X build rockets and engineer spacecraft, it’s clear that our space economy is on the rise—and it is not expected to stop.

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