The core boost stage diddn’t even land. The car in the meantime is sending back amazing footage of Earth.
I’m totally fine with Space X launching a car into some fuckoff crazy orbit, because even if we give NASA fuckloads of money and charters to do stuff, it’s currently just another Govt Organization with lots of bullshit in the way of doing much useful. No disrespect to the organization’s talent. But as far as it goes, NASA is never going to be the one sending its rockets with its people to do the important missions anymore.
If anything it will be the US Air Force doing that in the name of the actual USA.
Look, I rather sadly work for a defense contractor that builds and sells nuclear submarines to the US NAVY.
I’ve worked for an aerospace company that sold components to both private industry for commercial use, govt agencies such as NASA, contractors that put said components into orders for agencies such as NASA and the US Air Force, (among others) and before I left we were working to supply Space X.
Knowing what little I know of all of it, I reluctantly think we’re better off entrusting the future of R&D and tech to private industry, pursuing self-appointed missions that are motivated, largely, by profit. NASA has legacy that in many ways stifles the pursuit of exploration. They will never get their old-school “exploration” mentality back.
We need companies willing to get people literally killed in pursuit of the unkown. We need people who aren’t the best of the best in the govt, who are civilians who applied for a dangerous job like any other dangerous job, willing to get shot into deep space and probably never return. NASA can’t and won’t do that. They won’t fly crew on a ship that hasn’t flown X hours, passed Y tests, and been through however many levels of paperwork and bullshit. If we want space to open up we need people flying on mass-produced commercial ships that fly daily.
I think we need everything that has to do with space to succeed as much as possible. We need Blue Origin, Virgin Galactic, we need SpaceX and we need NASA. We need China and Russia doing their very best to try and utterly humiliate the American space program. We need competition and we need redundancy and we need inspiration.
That red stupid sports car in space is not Niel Armstrong on the moon. But it is a thing that exists now, and it is inspiring. For my entire childhood the keys to space have been in the hands of the slow, elite, apathetic govt. What purpose, other than for ultimate political and military gain, was the entire Space Race? Now we have proof that other people can go out there, send a design object beyond LEO, actually broadcast back live, high resolution images with good lenses, and give people a taste of the awe we were to have felt when people first saw the Big Blue Marble photo from Apollo 8. You can see the ad in it, or the wasted opportunity to launch something ‘useful’ (which, is more R&D time and cost to assume than just taking something out of the owner’s driveway and strapping it to a frame with a few expensive cameras)
Altruistic as the Moon landings seem, the minute the Govt felt the actual job of stomping a mudhole in the Soviet space program was done, we cancelled everything. We got stuck with Skylab. We could have sent some poor souls to go die on a Venus flyby mission, or used Saturn V rockets to send things to Mars or beyond. But no, we got stuck with the Space Shuttle. NASA still lost people on the Space Shuttles, and instead of going “well, fuckit sometimes people die when you strap them to controlled explosives” we instead felt it was a tragedy that needed to require more cauition.
Pretty sure if private companies were pursuing it outside of NASA, they would have built one Space Shuttle, realized it would be a money hole, or dangerous, and moved on.
Here’s what NASA needs to do. It needs to become the FAA of space. It needs to have authority over who does what in space as long as it’s related to US launches and/or missions. It can organize and coordinate missions and it can set competitions to do research. But it doesn’t fund the projects or dictate the hardware.
NASA should basically run with the idea of maintaining the ISS and other US Govt assets it does need to have in space, and contract out private companies to actually build the rockets, train the crews, handle mission control, fly the missions etc. NASA personnel would be passengers, the science team, etc.
NASA says “we need some scientists out at the Earth/Moon L2 point in 5 years” Whoever is willing to get them a space station and a ride at the right price and conditions could be the one to run that show.
NASA, and before that NACA, were indeed pioneers in researching the wonderful world of flight. They weren’t the only ones, but were responsible for a lot. But as NACA largely was there to provide some guidelines and research to the aviation pioneers who actually dared to risk life and limb and fortune over crazy flying machines, some of which were used for war, others for great good, many simply for corporate gain; NASA cannot be expected to lead the way. They should simply be a body that provides guidance and information and coordination to all who dare explore the final frontier.