2020 Is the First Year of the 21st Century

How SpaceX will make “2020” feel like “Twenty-Twenty”

For those of us who keep writing a “19” at the end of today’s date (myself included), “twenty-twenty” still feels like a date from a science fiction film. Yet here we are. We may not have flying cars, but we do have electric ones. We may not have robotic household servants, but we do have supercomputers in our pockets. We may not be on Mars yet, but SpaceX might be showing us a path there by 2030. In a great many ways, 2020 will be the first year that “feels” like the 21st century…at least when it comes to space exploration.

From the first launch of the first Dragon 2 capsule to the rupturing of its first Starship prototype to the launch of its first Starlink satellite prototypes…it is safe to say that 2019 was eventful but also fruitful for Spacex. 2020, however, will be off the charts in achievement. Here are the most important events coming this year.

The Dragon 2 Manned Flight

In what will be one of the most important space launches of the year (decade?), the privately- developed Dragon 2 spacecraft appears finally ready to take the crew to space. Not only will this event be a pivotal achievement for Spacex, the launch ushers in the first crewed American spacecraft since the Space Shuttle was retired in 2011. It also marks the beginning of the end of America’s reliance on Russian Soyuz spacecraft to ferry Americans to and from the International Space Station. More importantly, along with the Orion Spacecraft and Starliner, it will launch a new generation of spacecraft that will finally replace those designed in the Cold War.

Starlink Network Comes Online

The first three sets of Starlink satellites have already been launched. In the true Muskian manner, Spacex has vaulted from having virtually no presence in the satellite industry to becoming the single largest operator of commercial satellites globally.in a matter of months. Starlink is SpaceX's bid to provide high-speed internet to all corners of the globe. The money generated from Starlink will be used to fund SpaceX's ultimate mission, a Mars colony. The first phase of the Starlink system will come online this year.

Starship Rocket Launch

A Mars colony cannot be built without finding a means of sending large numbers of people to Mars safely and affordably. The Starship rocket, a rocket that will be larger and more capable than the gargantuan Saturn V, is already under construction. Despite a setback at the end of last year where an early prototype ruptured during ground-testing, I believe that there is still a reasonable chance that we will see an orbital test flight before the year is out.

With reusable skyscraper-sized rockets, privately-operated crewed spacecraft, and satellite-fed global high-speed internet that subsidizes a Martian colony…it is safe to say that the 21st century has finally arrived.