SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy is set to launch today for the first time. According to SpaceX, the heavy lift vehicle “will be the most powerful operational rocket in the world by a factor of two, with the ability to lift more than twice the payload of the next vehicle, at one-third the cost.” The significance of today’s Falcon Heavy launch, however, is not related to the success or failure of the rocket’s planned flight. Instead, what’s important is that today’s launch signifies continued commercial sector innovation and the ability to influence market stimuli. The U.S. must continue to rapidly innovate in the space sector to mature economic interests and stay ahead of peer competitors who also seek strategic opportunities from space.
SpaceX, United Launch Alliance, and Blue Origin, among other U.S. companies, continue to innovate and press the boundary of space capabilities and market development. The value of additional launch services reflects increasing demand for ultra low-cost access to space. The U.S., Russia, China, India, and others have all expressed a desire to capitalize on the commercial and military opportunities provided by outer space. The U.S. currently has a significant advantage in space compared to peer competitors, however this advantage is eroding as competition over the developing domain intensifies.
The U.S. should continue to leverage commercial innovation to define economic terms while advancing strategic influence over the space arena. Free market opportunities and American visionaries offer the U.S. significant advantages that should not be wasted. The U.S. government should continue to invest wisely to develop America’s ability to go farther and do more in space.