The printing press, the car, and airplanes were all invented then took time to be widely used. In fact Gutenberg had to ensure that hundreds of copies of his books would sell, so he could pay back his investors.(1) Naturally his and other great inventions such as the car or airplanes were not an instant hit, but significantly made our lives better as they started being more accessible. Now books can be as cheap as a dollar, you can buy a car or get a cheaper Uber ride, and fly to Cancun for under 100 dollars if you buy at the right time.
This is where Space X comes in, the history making company of our time. The creator of this company, Elon Musk’s goal is to send people to Mars. He has not reached that goal of course, but has made strides towards it. Prior to Space X, one rocket launch to the International Space Station would cost the tax payers 500 million dollars. Musk however, built a lower cost rocket, by engineering about 85% of the individual pieces that go into his rockets. He did not build everything by himself, but did manage to lower the cost per launch to 60 million dollars. (2) Also, his Dragon and Falcon rockets are reusable. The progress made by this private company is slowly surpassing NASA’s product, the shuttle.
This seems in some way similar to the path that cars, airplanes and the printing press took, they were made cheaper, and are now accessible.
The availability of this company’s services also directly adds to the continually growing history of Texas. The small town of Boca Chica near Brownsville hosts one of the few spaceports built by Space X, and has been considered in the 2019 launch of Elon Musk’s BFR (Big >>>> Rocket) which would have Mars as it’s destination.(3)
The competition has one rocket part factory in Harlingen, Texas, these are the United Launch Alliance people (ULA). This is a two company alliance formed in response to the emergence of Space X, and is comprised of Boeing Defense Systems and Lockheed Martin. Another rocket company is Blue Origin, created by Jeff Bezos, owner of Amazon. There was not much available information on Blue Origin, but to give an idea of how cheap Musk has made launches compare the cost. One ULA launch will cost 109 million, almost 50 million more than one by SpaceX.(4)
So just as there is a history of cars, airplanes, etc… there is a history of rockets, and Texas continues to play a part in it through NASA, SpaceX, and United Launch Alliance. It would be interesting to see this fact take effect on young students who might one day be aerospace engineers or astronauts.
1. Patrick Wyman, Gutenberg and the Printing Press, Tides of History
2. Ashlee Vance, Elon Musk, (Harper Collins Publishers, New York 2015) 215-218
3. Rye Druzin, SpaceX’s South Texas Launch pad may get Mars-sized boost, San Antonio Express News (March 1 2018).
4. Fortune, Rocket Launch Prices are Crashing Amid Competition From SpaceX, (April 5 2017) Accessed April 5th 2018