In Popular Mechanics, space journo and consultant Rand Simberg—who wrote about the future of NASA in the era of private spaceflight in last month's print magazine—explains some of the nifty technical details he picked up from entrepreneur Elon Musk about SpaceX's reusable rockets and spacecraft.
But perhaps of greater interest to the less technically inclined spaceophiles among us, Simberg wraps up the piece like this:
Last week, the company announced the successful test of its new SuperDraco rocket engines, which will power the launch–abort system for the Dragon, making it safer for human occupation, and also act as the landing engines. The idea is that Dragon will land vertically on the pad, like the Falcon rocket components, as opposed to landing in the water with parachutes.
So what does that mean for ticket prices in the future? Musk tells us that with daily flights, the cost will run about $100 per pound. For the average male, that means about 20,000 bucks. Start saving your money.
In other words, none of the many players in the private space industry have actually taken paying customers off the surface of the Earth yet, but ticket prices are already experiencing some serious downward pressure. Virgin Galactic's $200,000 price tag is already starting to sound downright extravagant in the face of Simberg's back-of-the-envelope math. And the $63 million we're playing to the Russians to ferry American astronauts back and forth to the International Space Station right now? Horrifying.
Get the scoop on the whole scene from our Very Special Space Issue. (Now available online!)