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(EDITORIAL from Korea Times on June 2)

Science 07:30 June 02, 2020

SpaceX launch inspires Korea to join space race more actively

SpaceX, a private company founded by Tesla CEO Elon Musk, made history Saturday by sending NASA astronauts into space aboard the Crew Dragon spacecraft using a Falcon 9 rocket. The launch was the first manned space flight from the U.S. in nine years and the first by a private company.

With the successful launch, NASA can rely on SpaceX and other companies for the transportation of its astronauts to the International Space Station. The launch, dubbed "Demo-2," was the final demonstration mission in the human rating process of SpaceX's Crew Dragon and Falcon 9, meaning that the launch vehicle will be certified for operational use for the regular transportation of people into space. It was also a welcome reminder of U.S. technical expertise in space science as the world's most powerful country grapples with the coronavirus pandemic.

Musk founded SpaceX in 2002 with a view to reducing space transport costs and to further his dream of colonizing Mars. Musk's goal was dismissed as ridiculous then, but the launch is proof that his plan is no longer a pipe dream. In its bid to shorten the itinerary for space development and save costs, the U.S. turned to the private sector and SpaceX answered with innovation. The company has reduced the cost of a rocket launch dramatically by developing a reusable system.

SpaceX's launch inspires South Korea to put more effort into space development. The Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI) plans to launch its orbital rocket KSLV-II next year to take a 1,500kg payload into a 600 to 800 kilometer low earth orbit. During his visit to KARI last year, President Moon Jae-in urged private companies to invest in space programs with confidence, emphasizing the importance of the many failures that lay on the pathway to success. Although space exploration requires a huge investment, the country should join the global space race more actively for our future and posterity.
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