One of humanity’s brighter moments in recent history occurred on May 30 with the launch of NASA astronauts from American soil in a commercially built and operated, American crewed spacecraft on its way to the International Space Station.
The successful launch was the culmination of more than nine years of efforts to return Americans to space after NASA officially ended the Space Shuttle program in 2011, leaving many to ponder what the end of the program meant for the future of space exploration for the country.
Rather than stew on the “what now?” question, NASA did what it was built to do—explore. Adapting to life after the program brought with it a period of deep introspection and examination on how to get back into space in a more cost-efficient and effective manner. Leaning hard on technology can only take one so far. As is the case with most innovation, it takes an outside source to point out a different way to lean on technology to create significant change. For example, rather than go with the one-and-done approach to rockets, would it be possible to reuse a rocket that lifted humans into space, and in doing so, save millions of dollars?