SpaceX continues to founder

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SpaceX continues to founder

Courtesy of Creative Commons

Courtesy of Creative Commons

Courtesy of Creative Commons

Courtesy of Creative Commons

Aditya Saxena

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The International Space station was hit with a major power shortage this week, resulting in the delay of the launch of the first cargo ship of SpaceX, a space transportation services company founded by Elon Musk. It will now relaunch this capsule atop a Falcon 9 rocket no earlier than Friday, May 9th 2019. It was originally scheduled to launch the shipment on Wednesday (May 7th), but a power-switching unit malfunctioned at NASA, rendering two power channels offline. It is appalling for SpaceX that this malfunction comes just days ahead of the snafu that went down at NASA with the failure of its Dragon capsule’s engine test, that blew up over Cape Canaveral.

Space.com, a prolific media agency reporting exclusively on space pertaining issues,  reported from NASA that power systems were affected on the robotic arm, leaving it without a backup. The capsule was originally intended to set off on a three day trip to the space station, where the astronauts were expected to unpack the 5000 pounds of cargo supplies that the capsule carried. However, things have taken an about turn ever since the Dragon capsule blew up. Given that SpaceX is seeking to relaunch the capsule in the coming weeks, it seems to be an expedition fraught in danger for its crew in light of what transpired.

Despite all this, SpaceX does not smell faintly of future failure at this point; its lofty ambitions, nevertheless, are somewhat unfounded. With the valuation of a typical Silicon Valley midsized behemoth, and virtually nonexistent margins, it is hard for even topnotch analysts to decipher the faith of the space startup. And numbers aside, I feel there is a dearth of accountability that is taking its toll on the company. For example, the lack of a concrete response plan stirred up renewed space-exploration discussions in Florida, with some people going so far as to peg SpaceX as a flash point for future space catastrophes.

SpaceX’s mission statement is a little vague too: it entails the manufacture and launch of advanced rockets and further promises to revolutionize space travel, however it is implied (or rather, asserted) that the company is setup to harness the financial capacity of Musk to better and more freely explore space in the way it has not been done before (in short, be better than NASA). I concede that these are solely my views but having read so much about Musk, I can’t help being in that frame of mind while writing this article where I think it to be the nexus of all activity pertaining to space in the future. The company maybe somewhat beleaguered at the moment, but for those who know Musk, will be bound to be perpetually optimistic for the future of this upstart.

SpaceX’s Vice President of mission assurance Hans Koenigsmann provided an insight to this capsule’s failure. He lamented the loss of the capsule but was optimistic of the forward nature of the company. ‘I hope this is a relatively swift investigation at the end of the day’, Koenigsmann said. ‘I don’t want to completely preclude the current schedule, but certainly this is not good news for the schedule’.

Space exploration is nothing new. It has become the hot pastime of famous founders like Jeff Bezos, Richard Branson, or Elon Musk. However, there is something intriguingly different with the way Musk operates his businesses (only if would have heard of the Boring Company) that will surely catch the attention of the millenia. I will personally not be surprised if SpaceX supplants NASA in the years to come in terms of space activity or turns out to be the most innovative company of the century.