The entrepreneurial efforts of Elon Musk have already thrust our society into the future in transformational ways. He helped to invent the concept of sending money between people over the internet by founding a company that eventually became PayPal. His car company, Tesla, has done more to popularize the concept of electric cars than all of the models released by the major automakers. His most exciting enterprise to date, as far as its effect on our future, is SpaceX.
SpaceX has been sending satellites and other cargo to Earth orbit for years now. This company has brought down the costs of space travel by successfully recovering rockets that have already been launched into space on multiple occasions. It has been reported that this space launch company has doubled its record for the number of annual space launches this year. It is, in fact, only a little shy of matching the total number of launches they did over the past three years combined.
The very concept of a private space launch company is one that many doubted would succeed when SpaceX first opened its doors. The fact that it is continuing to pick up contracts for launches of satellites shows that this latest effort is poised for success and that it has a leg up on any new competitors that may enter the field.
In a day and age of ever-tightening government budgets, it is heartening for those of us who believe in the value of space travel that private industry is beginning to take up the mantle of this important endeavor. Granted, private companies have not done pioneering exploratory missions such as the Apollo trips to the moon of a few decades ago, but that may soon change. Elon Musk has made no secret of the fact that he wants to see humanity get to Mars and that this is what is truly motivating these first steps into Earth orbit. He hopes that these missions will lay the groundwork for learning and technological breakthroughs that will make these tentative first steps into space by private industry be the beginning of a great step forward for humanity.