Launching a reusable spacecraft

SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket early May 22, 2012 as it heads for space carrying the company's Dragon spacecraft from pad 40 at Cape Canaveral, Florida.

Private space transport company SpaceX announced a notable success recently: it soft-landed a Falcon 9 rocket in the Atlantic Ocean after it successfuly re-entered earth's atmosphere.

It's a significant development in that spacecrafts tend to be only good for one-time use. SpaceX president and COO Gwynne Shotwell is someone who's looking closely at space travel in the future. She says the next step in the evolution of space travel is rapid and complete reusability:

"What would air travel look like if airplanes were thrown out after each flight? No one would be flying in airplanes. We want to be able to re-use rapidly, just like an airplane."

It's a process that Shotwell thinks is inevitable, and in a lot of ways, just makes logical sense:

"From my perspective, it's really risk management, to ensure that humans have the ability to go somewhere else in case there were to be some huge disaster on earth."

Click the media player above to hear SpaceX president and COO Gwynne Shotwell in conversation with Marketplace Tech host Ben Johnson.

 


CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story incorrectly spelled Gwynne Shotwell's name. The text has been corrected.

About the author

Ben Johnson is the host of Marketplace Tech.

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