U.S is entering a new era of space travel

By Paul DeLutio, Columnist

Failure can often be channeled and used as a powerful motivator, and after four previous failed attempts, the private space exploration company SpaceX has reached a huge milestone for space travel, successfully landing one of its Falcon 9 rockets aboard a drone barge in the middle of the Atlantic.

Delivering around 7000 pounds of cargo to the International Space Station, the Falcon 9 rocket proved its effectiveness. In addition, the Falcon deployed a small unmanned spacecraft, the Dragon, which executed the supply transfer to the space station.

This success marks the beginning of a new era for space exploration. The cost efficiency of reusable rockets opens an entirely new realm of possibility for space travel. With the ultimate goal of this project being the mass production of an entirely reusable rocket, SpaceX continues to be on the forefront of innovations in space travel.

With the landscape of discovery changing at such a rapid pace, it appears that humanity could be moving into a new “Golden Age of Exploration,” and reusable rockets are creating a dynamic for humans to finally go boldly into what William Shatner calls: space, the final frontier.

SpaceX has made it abundantly clear that its goal is the mission to Mars, and with such a new and exciting event such as this on the horizon, there are bound to be important questions on the line.

One of the most important questions to consider would ask: can humans perform any kind of scientific research on Mars that robots cannot currently perform? The answer is rather simple, but there are other factors to consider.

One of the most important goals of a human mission to Mars is the return of Martian samples back to Earth. However, within the time frame of a potential mission to Mars, Martian rovers will most likely have the capability to return samples to Earth. Therefore, it seems that humans could not add very much dynamic to the mission.

But we also didn’t have to land on the moon … right?

The mission to Mars should not be a question of efficient scientific research, but rather an embracing of the cosmos as the last truly undiscovered final frontier that we as humans have always imagined it be.

That being said, putting humans on Mars could be the milestone that brings humanity together in a way that has not been exhibited in many years.

Most of us on campus never got to witness the glory of the first lunar landing, but I’m willing to bet that many of the professors on campus are willing to tell you how much the event inspired or struck them in some magical way.

SpaceX understands the importance of a Martian landing, and is well on its way to achieving this goal. Should the company succeed, it will bring together humanity’s greatest minds of creativity and ingenuity, and inspire an entirely new generation of scientists, explorers, and star-gazers―all hoping to leave their mark on the universe, dreaming of the day where they can reach out and touch the stars.

Paul is a freshman in LAS.

[email protected]