When Henry Ford made cheap, reliable cars, people said, ‘Nah, what’s wrong with a horse?’ That was a huge bet he made, and it worked.
This weekend, for the first time in 10 years, the United States launched a manned rocket into orbit from Cape Canaveral, with the aim of docking with the International Space Station. This feat was a joint effort by NASA, a government-funded organization, and a private company that goes by the name of Space Exploration Technologies (better known as SpaceX for short). The success of this launch is due, in large part, to the cost-saving innovations in rocketry by SpaceX engineers—one of the most impressive of which is the use of a reusable Falcon booster rocket. Yet, when somebody has a breakthrough innovation, it is usually a combined cascade of events. “Very rarely, is it one little thing,” according to Elon Musk, the CEO/CTO of SpaceX. “It’s usually a whole bunch of things that collectively amount to a huge innovation.”