SCIENCE + TECHNOLOGY

BYU professor hopeful for space project, despite SpaceX failure

Nov 22, 2023, 9:00 PM

Space X Starship launch is a step in the right direction as far as a BYU professor, with dreams of ...

FILE - The SpaceX headquarters is seen, May 25, 2012, in Hawthorne, Calif. On Thursday, (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File)

(AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File)

SALT LAKE CITY — Last weekend’s SpaceX Starship launch has left scientists with mixed reviews. However, for BYU Professor of Geological Science and planetary scientist Jani Radebaugh, the event marks a promising step toward her own project which she hopes to launch ten years from now.

Radebaugh is part of a group at BYU developing a specially designed quadcopter intended for Saturn’s moon, Titan. This quadcopter aims to scan the moon’s surface for signs of life.

Expressing her enthusiasm, Radebaugh highlighted SpaceX as one of three potential options to transport her quadcopter to Saturn.

Despite the recent setback where the Starship rocket exploded after the first segment detached, Radebaugh remains optimistic about the future of private space agencies. She also sees them as crucial players in advancing space exploration and potentially providing the means for her project to reach Saturn.

“These are the groups that will be getting us into space. They’ll be getting us back to the moon. Maybe they’ll get the common ones … that want to go to space a ride to the moon,” said Radebaugh.

Looking ahead to her BYU space project

As a professor and planetary scientist, Radebaugh looks ten years ahead. She said the recent SpaceX launch reaffirms her belief that the goal of reaching Saturn with her quadcopter is within reach.

Both the Starship and Super Heavy rocket, with their fully reusable design and high payload capacity, present a promising option for transporting scientific instruments and even human beings to distant planets and moons. Radebaugh said this shows the advancing capabilities of privately owned space agencies.

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BYU professor hopeful for space project, despite SpaceX failure