BIG AND COOL, BUT WHO WANTS IT?
NASA not ready to surrender space to Musk
SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy rocket blew minds last week with more than 5 million pounds of thrust, two booster landings and delivery of CEO Elon Musk’s Tesla sports car on a path into deep space. “It can do anything you want,” Musk said of the potential for the world’s new most powerful rocket, but at the same time, he downplayed his plans for it. He is already working on a bigger rocket to fly humans to Mars. The question is, who wants to use the Falcon Heavy, and what does it really mean for the space industry?
The Pentagon, some companies and NASA scientists will welcome the rocket’s bargain basement $90 million price for occasional launches of very heavy satellites.
Fans of SpaceX and a more entrepreneurial approach to spaceflight see the Falcon Heavy as an opportunity to jump-start deep space exploration, and as proof NASA should give up designing and flying its own rockets.
NASA regards the rocket as a complement to — not a replacement for — the much more powerful, expensive and so far unseen Space Launch System rocket that the agency is developing in hopes of launching a crew around the moon by 2022.
“The issue is whether there are customers and a market for this
SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy rocket launches Feb. 6.