SpaceX rocket launch breaks barriers, highlights importance of STEM


At 8:29 p.m. on December 21, SpaceX sent shockwaves through the aerospace community with the first landing of an orbital booster vehicle.  Instead of disintegrating after mission completion like most rockets do, the Falcon 9 successfully landed back on Earth and may even have the potential to be reused.

Staples alum Jason Hoving ’13 currently interns at SpaceX and had the opportunity to be one of the many who made this recent feat possible.

“It was the most insane thing to watch, having worked on the rocket and seen how much everyone else cared for it as well,” Hoving said.  “[It was] really inspiring to see something on this scale accomplished and know I had a small part in it.”

The accomplishment itself is already being seen as a game-changer in the aerospace community, as well as inspiration for Staples students to change the future of technology like Hoving.

“In the near future, we will be able to send rockets up dozens of times like we do with airplanes,” Hoving said.  “This will dramatically reduce the cost for satellites, ISS resupply, astronaut delivery and going to other planets.”

Some Staples students believe that the company’s accomplishment will boost STEM enthusiasm immensely.The STEM education initiative seeks to influence nationwide student interest in science, technology, engineering and math, which are four areas of study crucial to SpaceX’s success.  

“The Apollo missions inspired hundreds of thousands of teenagers to pursue science, and Mars is more than a thousand times farther away from Earth than the moon is,” Ulyana Piterbarg ’17 said.  Speaking of yesterday’s rocket launch, she added, “I could not imagine a single other human achievement that would have a comparable effect on interest in the STEM field.”

The magnitude of SpaceX’s accomplishment has broken the boundaries that previously limited the capabilities of space travel.  Christopher Scherban ’17 believes that Falcon 9’s accuracy and success is the first real step towards landing a rocket on Mars.

[SpaceX is] essentially landing a 15-story tower on what amounts to a single pixel of the earth,” Scherban said.  “They manage to hit a place the size of a football field, and hit it dead center.”  Since precision would be vital for future rocket landings on the surface of Mars, the accuracy of Falcon 9, as well as the logistical and economical benefits, suggests that affordable space exploration may be closer than the world thinks.

As Hoving puts it, “Mars or bust, man.”