What's next in Rockets

Sadly, or not, it's private enterprise - IN SPACE! Above is SpaceX's Falcon, which is already supplying the ISS, using this nifty little ship:
The Dragon! The Dragon has made a few trips to the ISS (just splashed down a few days ago) to deliver supplies and take back trash/experiments. It's automated to date, but is entirely ready to deliver people to space as well.

SpaceX is frankly awesome. They're working on their next rocket, which could revolutionize human access to space (in terms of cost - but this is a major barrier):
Here's a test launch. Check out the legs:
This rocket is designed to blast off, reach space, deliver its cargo, then fly back to Earth and land vertically, on those legs. This is the revolutionary part - the reusable rocket. Long a goal, and the original idea behind the Space Shuttle - check out this prototype from the 60's that never had a chance thanks to Nixon and Vietnam:
The rocket itself was not reusable, but this design was far more efficient than the Shuttle design that we finally got.

Anyways, SpaceX's Grasshopper is a reusable rocket, which greatly reduces the cost of any individual mission. Additionally, it can handle more cargo. Here's the cargo module, which would sit on top of the Grasshopper:
This is huge, relative to other rockets delivering stuff to space today.

Again, SpaceX seems like a kick ass success story, and their success will lead to more success. Good luck Elon!

Oh, and Branson's "Virgin Galactic"? Tourist trap only. Cool, but for rich thrillseekers and not much else.

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