FALCON 9: A new era of American space flight has dawned with the successful crew launch of the Dragon capsule. The Falcon 9 spacecraft corrects the 40 year mistake of the Space Shuttle program, and finally demonstrates the potential of the private development of space,

This graphic compares the Falcon 9 to the Space Shuttle. As we know, in spaceflight, weight is everything and each pound lifted into space comes at great expense. The Falcon 9 weighs only a quarter what the Space Shuttle weighed, yet can lift a comparable payload to low-earth-orbit (LEO). By saving so much mass, the Falcon 9 is much more economical, and the cost per lauch is a fraction of the Shuttle.

Elon Musk originally promised $20 million per ride, per astronaut. Assuming reusability, the cost per lauch can be as low as $50 million, which, for a crew of two, is only $25 million per ride. This is not bad for cost overruns, especially considering the debacle during the development of the Space Shuttle back in the 70s. And this is significantly cheaper than the $100+ million per ride the Russians have been charging NASA to carry our astronauts to the ISS. Now those funds can be devoted to practical needs instead. Bright days are ahead for American space flight, especially if the Dragon safely returns the crew to Earth.

As written numerous times on this page, the Space Shuttle program was based on a flawed and dangerous concept, was massively expensive, and ultimately killed two crews. American space flight languished for 30 years under the Shuttle program, and for another 10 after that program was decommissioned before developing a suitable replacement system. But it looks like the days of languishing are finally over! Ad Astra!

(The numbers are adapted from Wikipedia.)

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