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SpaceX launch inspires local student

Posted at 2:23 PM, Jun 05, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-06 14:40:24-04

BOISE, Idaho — Last Saturday's SpaceX launch marks the first time in nearly a decade astronauts have gone into orbit from US soil. It reignited a fascination with space travel for many, including local students.

"I pretty much had my computer streaming the live stream nonstop upwards of 6 hours before launch up until they docked and a little while after," said NNU student Ben Campbell.

Campbell is a space enthusiast, Elon Musk fan, and one of the students at NNU who's worked on the school's MakerSat satellites.

"Most recently we've had MakerSat-1 which is the followup to MakerSat-0, that got launched just this December a few months ago, and then deployed at the international space station in February," said Campbell,

"That's been in orbit now for a few months, and we've been looking at data processing over the past few months."

The historic launch reignites the passion students have to keep going in the field, and even begin new ventures.

"What I want to do is make it, so launch opportunities are available for much smaller entities that don't quite have the budget of NASA or SpaceX," said Campbell.

SpaceX focuses on reusability to bring down the total cost by reusing parts. However, retired NASA astronaut Steven Swanson says it's still too expensive for space tourism to be an immediate possibility.

"Now we can move that over and have it go to private people and do that SpaceX owns that vehicle, so that's a great step in that way, it's still going to be really, really expensive," said Swanson,

"so it's not going to be available for a lot of people for a while, but SpaceX is doing a good job of bringing down the cost for that first stage motor."

Swanson now serves as a distinguished educator at Boise State. He says the partnership between SpaceX and NASA has a promising future.

"I mean that was a great idea right there because we used SpaceX ability to be adaptive and learn quickly and move quickly, and NASA with all the experience but it didn't move quickly because it's a big bureaucratic organization, that combination worked well together, and we have this big vehicle that works really well."

Despite the expenses, it creates exciting prospects for students like Ben. He's now working on creating his own aerospace company, Sader Aerospace, but Campbell says he's taking it slow and is well aware of the time and experience it takes to get to a level like SpaceX.

"[Elon Musk] 's had billions of dollars to be able to flow through SpaceX and it's taken almost two decades to get people launched," said Campbell, "me, I'm a broke college student, probably going to take me a little longer to get to that."

Ben says it's in no way a full-fledged space program, and his current aim is creating the most overdone model rocket out there. For now, he's allowing himself plenty of time to reach his goal, and he'll add improvements and develop even more in the future.

"With space, we're starting to have a large commercialization starting now, and my guess is if I don't get in now, it's going to be way harder than trying to start in like 30 years or something. So the sooner I start, hopefully, the better chance I have of getting off the ground, pun fully intended," said Campbell.