Reusable Rockets Economize Space Commerce

The hustle-and-bustle of Cape Canaveral came to a sudden halt this week. Engineers and technicians stood silent as SpaceX launched an orbital rocket for the second time. That feat had been elusive; the milestone is a huge leap for space commerce. Over the past five years, SpaceX may have spent as much as $1 billion in venture funding to fine-tune the technology required to recover and reuse the first stage or booster component of its rockets. The firm’s clients will benefit handsomely. Insiders suggest that the cost difference between using a new and recycled rocket for a basic satellite launch could be $20 million, if not more. Admittedly, SpaceX has not yet figured out how to save the entire rocket. But the piece that matters—the 14-story, engine-laden core on its Falcon9 model—can now be reliably reused. Other firms in the business are following suit with similar technology. Competition will likely compress launch costs even more.

Our Vantage Point: SpaceX is not the only company in the satellite-launch business, but its progress will drive industry-wide innovation. Space itself is fast moving beyond its heritage as a private reserve.

Learn more at The New York Times

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Image: Expendable boosters were part of legacy space programs. Credit: Oledijo at Can Stock Photo Inc.

Beyond Caparra

Turn Right for Roseau

To the uninitiated, the Caribbean can be a mind-boggling array of small islands, with a few large ones in the mix.

Man with Cigar

Become a geographer. Florida and the Caribbean have the same economic heft as Brazil. Our regional set includes the perimeter economies of Central America, Colombia, Venezuela, as well as the Guiana Highlands.

Relative Economic Size

Comments on this blog focus on Florida and neighboring trade partners. By output, we rank the major islands:

1. Puerto Rico ($103 billion)

2. Cuba ($78 billion)

3. Dominican Republic ($64 billion)

4. Trinidad and Tobago ($29 billion)

5. Jamaica ($14 billion)

Florida dominates the region with state-wide GDP of about $770 billion. The largest perimeter economy is Colombia at $378 billion, followed by Venezuela.

Note: Ranking is based on GDP data for 2014 at market prices.

Source: World Bank, US Bureau of Economic Analysis, Government Development Bank for Puerto Rico, Cranganore.