(1) Private space launch companies have been around for the last 30 years. (2) However, NASA now relies completely on private companies to conduct their safer and easier missions. This allows NASA to apply their limited resources to the development of new technologies.
According to Dr. Mariel Borowitz, the Space-X Falcon 9 launches marked the first time a private company had been given so much responsibility by NASA. The launch included in its payload a spy satellite, which presented a new challenge for the company. SpaceX had to be much more secretive and was given very little information about the rocket's planned path.
Fortunately for both NASA and Space-X, the launch was considered a success. The booster separated from the main stage during flight after pushing it into its planned flight path. It then safely landed back at Kennedy Space Center without damage. Consequently, the booster can be used again, saving Space-X resources needed to continue the partnership.
Dr. Borowitz is a technology and space expert. She is also a professor at the Georgia Institute of Technology, where studies how new spacecraft are developed and used by governments.
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