After recent back to back rocket launches, SpaceX and Elon Musk are living up to their hype at last. Both launches at the end of June were for customers, and one included a recovered and reused Falcon 9 rocket. Then, in spite of the unfavorable weather, they were able to recover those rockets too for future reuse.
As a company, SpaceX is a media darling, with a fan following in and out of the aerospace community, but it also has detractors, many who note their lofty goals and their inconsistent delivery of said goals. As of late, however, the successes of SpaceX are taking some of the fuel from the fire of those critics.
The two most credible grievances against the company and enigmatic CEO is the failure to meet launch schedules and a seemingly high reliance on government funds.
Since 2014, SpaceX has had a schedule of 14 or 15 launches a year with a long list of customers waiting their turn for a ride into space. However, between a limited number launchpads and accidents, their actual launch numbers have gone from two in 2014 to an all-time high of nine in 2017. As we’re only halfway through this year, SpaceX currently looks like it could very well have 15, or maybe more, by year’s end.
Between three separate launch pads, two successfully reused Falcon 9 rockets, not to mention the speed at which they are building new ones, SpaceX is well positioned to meet its launch demands. Plus, by the end of 2018, there may well be the fourth launchpad in Texas, so it appears that the company is the good shape to continue the trend in the coming years.
When you look at SpaceX launch manifest, it is largely government commissioned launches. At one point, 70% of the company’s funding came from various U. S. government sources, classing SpaceX less as a commercial space business and more as a government contractor. The most entrenched critics have gone so far as to call Elon Musk a great ” swindler “.
But now, 71% of the launches are for commercial reasons and set to rise to 75% by the end of their, firmly planting SpaceX in the commercial territory.
And for those claiming the company and Musk are milking the government, they are in fact saving the U. S. government with their powerful and reusable Falcon 9 rockets and save them as much $1 billion if awarded future contracts.
So these days, there isn’t as much honest criticism that can levy against SpaceX or Elon Musk. Of course, there may always be naysayers, especially from competitors, but they don’t have the ammunition behind their claims the way the once did.
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