A private company did all this in about 15 years:
built a rocket from scratch; tested and rapidly improved on the design until the whole thing was smart enough to fly itself; made regular supply trips to the ISS (with automated docking sequences); got that same rocket safety certified for human flight; landed the boosters back on the ground and on floating barges out at sea, marking the first time rockets could be reused; eventually landed rockets so flawlessly that itís really not that big of a deal anymore (even though it has still not been replicated by anyone else and is a very big deal), lowering the cost to get to space.
In the 60plus days Bob and Doug were on the ISS, the rocket that got them there was refueled and flown a second time to deliver a bunch of Starlink satellites to orbit to make internet coverage across the world better, cheaper, and faster (something we will all need more of in the future of online learning...which I donít see going away anytime soon...)
And now, that same private company is building a whole new rocket in south Texas (Starship, being built on BocaChica beach) that will be completely reusable with the capability to:
- send 100 humans to the moon, mars, or the asteroid belt;
- make regular point to point hops across the earth, making travel to most any point on earth take about 30 minutes;
- be refurbished as building material on the moon or mars as the stainless steel it is built out of is easy to work and weld;
- be refuelable on the moon or mars from resources available on site so travelers to those locations can return to Earth.
I know, I guess Iím a fan of SpaceX.
While we certainly live in unprecedented and uncertain times, at least SpaceX and Elon are keeping things hopeful, exciting, and with a promise of a brighter future!