Space Is Sexy Again—And X-1R Is Still Rocking It
Why Man ended up on the Moon was really because the US of A would be damned if it let the Soviet Union be the first to plant its flag on lunar soil. Then the Cold War ended, and space exploration fell on the wayside. Federal funding that went towards NASA, which was highest in percentage during the sixties, fell to a low of 0.47% in 2017 (about US$19.6 billion). Not since 1959, the year after NASA was founded, had this number been lower. (Source: Wikipedia.)
But does this mean that Space is dead to us? Of course not. As the title of this article already infers, space has never been more exciting, and this is thanks to the “Billionaire Calvary”, a term coined by space activist Rick Tumlinson to refer to the likes of Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos and Richard Branson, who are championing space exploration and travel, and putting their money where their mouth is. CNBC reported that private investments into commercial space companies amounted to about US$3.9 billion last year.
At the Space Symposium last month in Colorado, USA, the star that stole the show was Blue Origin’s BE-4 Rocket Engine. Blue Origin is the company founded by Bezos—who you might know as the founder of that little e-commerce company called Amazon—to make space travel accessible to the masses. The BE-4 engine will be used in the early stage of the company’s New Glenn rockets, due for first launches in 2020.
Why, you ask, do we need to explore the vast, empty and cold Space when we have a big, beautiful ball teeming with diverse lifeforms to live in? NASA’s answer is: “Human space exploration helps to address fundamental questions about our place in the Universe and the history of our solar system. Through addressing the challenges related to human space exploration we expand technology, create new industries, and help to foster a peaceful connection with other nations.”
“Expand technology”. We, the common folk, have already benefitted from the race to space. From memory foam to water filter, a myriad of common everyday items are descendants of inventions made for space-faring travellers. And one more—X-1R.
Display at the Space Foundation in Colorado:
During the Apollo programme, X-1R was created to help NASA’s giant transporters move the space shuttle, together with the mobile launch platform, from the vehicle assembly building to the launch pad at the Kennedy Space Centre. The X-1R Crawler Track Lube that was formulated satisfied the checklist: long operating life, able to withstand the elements, biodegradable, and prevented the ultra-heavy-duty machines from breaking down. X-1R still supplies products to NASA until today, and it has also since developed products for little cars, bikes and trucks driven by the likes of us.
And thus, Space is sexy again, and we hope to reap the benefits from this renewed interest in the great unknown. To read more about the Space Symposium and X-1R, visit X-1R’s articles page.