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In the upcoming years, SpaceX has extremely high ambitions for space travel to Mars

The millionaire brainiac behind the Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) program has high ambitions of future private space exploration. Founder Elon Musk seeks a trip to the Red Planet of Mars before NASA's mid-2030s current projected timeframe.

Of course, Musk and SpaceX have delayed projects and failed tests in the past, but have shown great promise in current projects. SpaceX also continues to collect funds from NASA and other contractors looking to help go into space.

NASA's interest on the private sector relies on the hope of being able to use the SpaceX Dragon as an astronaut ferry into space, while the Falcon Heavy can carry cargo. The SpaceX Falcon Heavy successfully broke the $1,000-per-pound-to-orbit barrier at a time when space industry experts thought it couldn't be done at the time.

NASA and the US federal government are relying more on private contractors to help in the future -- SpaceX and its rivals will be more than happy to pick up the research slack. The SpaceX Dragon capsule may be prepared for launch in the next five years, with thoughts also on manned mission to Mars. Until then, the company recently announced it will invest $30 million for Space Launch Complex 4-East, located at Vandenberg Air Force Base. 

It's believed up to 1,000 employees could be employed at the facility in the next four years. SpaceX plans to launch aircraft and test projects from the popular launching site, while competitors look for other launch sites.

The private space market is growing with even more companies trying to snag government funding -- and SpaceX will have to face the United Launch Alliance Delta 4 rocket, along with foreign-based projects.

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RE: Good thing
By Jeffk464 on 7/17/2011 9:09:25 AM , Rating: 2
Pretty sure its cheaper to pay the russians than it was to to send them up on the space shuttle.

RE: Good thing
By Jeffk464 on 7/17/2011 9:12:24 AM , Rating: 2
And if you worried about the money being sent out of the country, give me a break. We have been spending the last 10 years sending US money out of the country as fast as humanly possible.

RE: Good thing
By Suspicious on 7/17/2011 12:05:39 PM , Rating: 5
Sending US money out of the country hasn't happend in a looong time. You are sending chinese money out of the country :-P

RE: Good thing
By Jeffk464 on 7/17/2011 5:00:12 PM , Rating: 5
Yeah bizarre isn't it, the US is broke so we borrow money from China. We then turn around and use that borrowed chinese money to buy more stuff from china. Isn't that kind of like using a solar panel to power a light that in turn is the sole source of light for the solar panel?

RE: Good thing
By Solandri on 7/17/2011 11:51:17 PM , Rating: 3
Your solar panel and light is a negative-sum game - you lose energy at each step. If you make wise economic decisions, economics is a positive-sum game - both the buyer and seller are better off because of their transaction.

In China's case, they are deliberately underpricing their labor (by keeping the Yuan artificially low) in order to rapidly expand their industrial base. So a better analogy for China would be a store which is selling their merchandise at below-cost in order to gain market share. The U.S. is a customer who opens up a credit card with that store so it can buy even more of the underpriced merchandise. So it's actually negative for China but positive for the U.S.

Whether the U.S. should be opening up more credit cards in the first place is an entirely separate issue.

RE: Good thing
By delphinus100 on 7/18/2011 7:47:14 PM , Rating: 2
You're both right. For crew to LEO, it is cheaper than the Shuttle...but being beholden to a country that is still somewhat of a political adversary, is still not something we want to continue any longer than necessary.

That's what the Commercial Crew Development (CCDev) program is for. Domestic sources* (note the plural) to that same and, and more...

* SpaceX, Boeing, Sierra Nevada/SpaceDev, Blue Origin.

RE: Good thing
By Jaybus on 7/19/2011 10:13:58 AM , Rating: 3
For taking a crew to the ISS, that is cheaper. For taking cargo, however, the space shuttle was much cheaper. The reason is simple. The SS can put a 24,400 kg payload into LEO, whereas the Soyuz 2 is limited to a 7,800 kg payload. What is sorely lacking in space exploration is a heavy lift vehicle. That is why the SpaceX Falcon Heavy is so much more interesting. It is planned for a LEO payload of 53,000 kg, more than double that of the SS.

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