SpaceX recently had a rocket nozzle failure and they still managed to get a payload to the ISS (Internation Space Station). That’s remarkable but a satellite they were supposed to deliver then could not be delivered because more fuel had to be used from the remaining engines. That shows their technology is rugged and reliable as well as being cheap. Thanks to modern methods the satellite, too, cost an order of magnitude less than previous failures over the Space Age. “The company said it has now written the satellite off as a mission failure and has filed an insurance claim for $10m, which should cover the cost of manufacture and launch. The satellite has been de-orbited: boosted down into the planet’s atmosphere where it was burnt up by the friction of reentry.”
They did manage to test thoroughly the satellite before crashing it into Earth so the loss was not complete. The way is clear for making a business of pushing stuff into space. It remains to be seen whether the failure of the nozzle was extreme bad luck or a design flaw. At least with no humans aboard there is less risk to life. It certainly seems to be cheaper than launching a Cadillac (Space Shuttle) into space.
I doubt business would have invested as heavily as NASA did in space so NASA’s work was invaluable in catalyzing these recent efforts. Between the new technology and reasonable business models, we should see new efforts in space rather than the fading under budget-cuts that NASA saw recently. This affair will also be humbling to those who claim that government never does anything right and business is the way to go. Government accomplished a lot long before business was even interested. Government also created demand that business can supply. We should look on government as a form of large business. Governments don’t just produce widgets, however. They produce what societies want. Sometimes it’s information. Sometimes it’s science and engineering. Sometimes it’s just nationalistic flag-waving but it’s a service that needs to be supplied.
Within reason we need both business and government to step up and do things we cannot do individually. Some think M$ has done that. They may have done that in the early days of 8-bit micro-computers but when monopoly and greed took over they went from serving us to serving them. Government failed to police M$ properly and we have what we have. Fortunately, the world keeps moving through space and we can leave M$ behind with new hardware and software produced by the whole world, not just a monopoly.