The United States’ military dominance is based on our leadership in space. Nearly every aspect of our nation’s military relies on space-based capabilities in one form or another — from command and control and early warning satellites, through to secure communications and advanced imagery for intelligence. Maintaining that dominance requires continued investment in our national security space architecture and the adoption of new and innovative technologies. These technologies are, however, emerging at a rate that exceeds our ability to fully grasp their implications or adapt our way of thinking to their capabilities.
Global positioning allowed the military to pinpoint targets with extreme accuracy, but it now allows Ubers and Lyfts to deliver us to our destination. The same timing signals that GPS uses ensures that the global economy hums along to the same temporal tune. The point is, technology opens up new capabilities and services that we had not considered when they first appeared.
Today this is the case with reusable rockets, something that was once a pipe dream and, according to many, wholly impossible. Not too long ago many thought that recovering a rocket booster was beyond the limits of physics and engineering. It couldn’t be done, until it was. As of April of 2018, SpaceX successfully flew 11 “flight-proven” or used Falcon 9 boosters. Think about that — they launched a rocket, delivered a payload, landed on Earth, were inspected and serviced, refueled and flown again. That is a staggering achievement.
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