A red sports car is now orbiting the sun

Reality is now one step closer to Ready Player One. Gets you thinking about what’s possible and what’s not. Not so long ago rockets just destroyed themselves, hopefully after a successful mission, but many times before. That was how it was, that was reality. Then a small group of people dreamed otherwise, they imagined a different reality, one in which rockets were no different than planes, one where what happened last week was possible. But this dream was far away, by a lot if you place yourself back then. Rockets didn’t land and rockets didn’t evolve quickly, we were using decades-old technology for a reason. Evolving has an immediate cost, but it also has the great reward of taking you to the next level.

I was hooked almost from the start, being a space nerd, knowing that we walked on the moon once, seeing us rooted on our home planet again was heartbreaking. What happened to the dream? Did we become complacent? But at the same time, I could understand it, space is hard, and rocket science is, well, rocket science. So I accepted it, I accepted once more reality as it was. Lucky for us not everyone was as complacent as me.

The first part I missed, Falcon 1 was like a little bit of history to me, I learn it after the fact. But seeing the first Falcon 9’s fly was a treat, it ignited that dormant dream again, the infinite possibilities of space, truly unimaginably big. The grasshopper was what really hit me though, there it was, a glimpse of the future. The Falcon proved it was possible to challenge the status quo, to fight the big guys. But the grasshopper was the evolution, that Ready Player One stuff. It just was very little then, like a new sprout on a tree, far from being a huge branch, but with the potential to be one.

With my brother we were crazy, rewatching each hop like a magic trick by the best magician of the moment. It was not so much what we saw, but what it meant, if this thing kept going forward it was going to change reality, and boy it did.

These guys are right now building a rocket to colonize another planet. Just thinking about it takes me back to that hopefulness the grasshopper provoked. They proved themselves now, they showed us that they can pull it off. So it’s easy to believe them now, at least for me, but the dream is so big that still is hard to comprehend. That’s why I think having a red roadster floating in space is so handy. There it is, in all it’s absurdity, in all its impossibleness, showing us that yesterday’s reality is not set in stone, today’s reality can make it obsolete.

So get ready mars, we are coming.

My takeaways are:

The importance of setting goals, right from the start the goal of SpaceX was to make humanity interplanetary. This shaped every action they took, they couldn’t just build rockets the same way. They needed to reduce the cost of going to space, thus making reusable rockets was a must. And to accomplish this they needed to evolve quickly and fail fast.

The value of iteration. Taking things step by step, breaking a big problem into little ones so it becomes manageable. The grasshopper is an excellent example of this.