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Give a Damn About Space: An Argument

We may have just found a new home! The recent discovery of seven Earth-like planets orbiting a nearby star is the latest in a series of space-based revelations that’s grabbed the social consciousness.

And this makes me ecstatic!

From an early age, I’ve looked to the heavens and wondered what might be out there. In the fourth grade, I attended Space Camp. I was a member of the Junior Astronauts in grade school. I built and launched model rockets and calculated the cosmic math to determine my true astrological sign!

And while pop culture now accepts my passion into the good graces of the masses, my young interest in space was routinely mocked. Luckily, as we march towards the future, I recognize I’m not alone in my love of that song softly calling to us from above.

Elon Musk is perhaps the most important contemporary catalyst in this growing interest in space. His flat out acceptance of SpaceX’s potential failure may have actually saved the fledgling private spaceflight company. Launch after launch, failure after failure, Elon wiped away the bad press and focused on iteration.

He understood that the first stage of the rocket, the booster that propels the second stage high enough and fast enough to escape the pull of Earth’s gravity, is the most expensive single-use element in spaceflight. The proposed reusability of that part of the rocket would drop the cost of launches by 30 percent.

We are quite lucky that SpaceX has since shown some success landing rockets. But I feel it’s equally important that we’ve been allowed to share in its failures.

SpaceX’s commitment to hosting streams for each attempted launch and landing imbues viewers with hope, anticipation and uncertainty. Each success feels shared, each failure endears SpaceX to the public. This gives the company the social capital to try again. We want to see this company succeed because we are allowed to see the scope of its failure.

We’ve become invested, perhaps not monetarily, but emotionally.

Each stream guarantees excitement for better or worse. Root for success, cheer on failure, but appreciate a man and a company willing to welcome anyone and everyone to a potential future of space exploration.

The next launch is only a few weeks away. SpaceX will, as always, be streaming the event. No one is quite certain how this will go and that uncertainty feels damned exciting!

Be sure to follow Elon Musk on Twitter for the latest launch updates. And head over to SpaceX’s YouTube page for live hosted webcasts of each upcoming launch!

Published inScience & Technology