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Of all the stories about the coronavirus this past week, you might have known that the latest press release from NASA would include something about the bug: Nope, we'll not be transporting the virus up to the International Space Station, thank you.

The latest delivery of supplies was carefully managed, as always: "The usual stringent precautions were taken to avoid passing along any germs or diseases to the space crew. The doctor-approved procedures have proven effective in the past, officials noted."

So there's that.

But there's also bigger news concerning the almost usual resupply mission: The private company that's become the truck line for astronauts--SpaceX--just nailed its 50th rocket booster landing.

Figures show that the main, and largest, booster rockets to near-Earth space can account for 60 percent, sometimes even 80 percent, of the cost of a launch. So several years back, Elon Musk & Co. had the idea of landing these things back on Earth for reuse to cut costs. Of the 50 rockets that have come back, almost half were reused once. Some were reused several times.

Word has it that SpaceX engineers are working to get it to 10 times.

The papers reported that this latest launch and landing, which took place Friday night, was conducted in less than ideal circumstances: Elon Musk "said it was the windiest conditions ever--25 mph to 30 mph--for a booster landing at Cape Canaveral, but he wanted to push the envelope."

Why, of course. That's what he does.

There are those who think America can turn over a lot of its space mission to private companies, such as SpaceX, which can deliver a product under budget and on time, two characteristics that governments don't always share. Mr. Musk--who made his fortune on the Internet years ago--has a spacecraft business that's been called "lean" and "nimble" with an office culture that's called "corporate." It's also proving successful.

SpaceX has made success routine. Mankind will benefit from it.

Editorial on 03/11/2020

Print Headline: Found in space


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