SpaceX — an aerospace company founded by business magnate Elon Musk — will test today its much-anticipated Falcon Heavy Rocket. If successful, the rocket will be the most powerful in the world and bring commercial and deep space exploration a step closer to reality. Heavy lift technology will change the world of science and exploration according to NASA’s former Chief Technologist.
Mason Peck is a professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at Cornell University and from 2011 to 2013 served as NASA’s Chief Technologist. He says companies like SpaceX and Blue Origin, along with NASA’s Space Launch System will all have a role in furthering exploration of the stars.
“In a few years we'll have an unprecedented set of choices for heavy lift. That will change the world — for science, exploration, and commercial use of space. Thanks to long-term investment in Falcon Heavy's commercially inspired technologies, SpaceX will open up prospects for commercial exploration and settlement of the solar system.
“But let's not forget that NASA and Air Force funding have helped make SpaceX successful. In particular, NASA's embrace of commercial resupply of the space station during the past decade has changed the conversation about launch capabilities.
“More generally, NASA has shown us the way to space, and companies like Blue Origin and SpaceX are ready to take that next step. We'll always need a NASA. That's how we dream big and discover the unexpected. But investors need a return on space exploration. So, I expect Falcon Heavy to be a keystone in this century's democratization of access to space.”
Also available for interviews on what the Falcon Heavy Rocket means for space exploration is astronomer Jonathan Lunine. Lunine has worked on the Cassini probe that studied Saturn, and was a co-investigator on the Juno space probe now orbiting Jupiter. He is director of Cornell University’s Center for Astrophysics and Planetary Science.