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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 JediJeb on 7/18/2011 3:55:30 PM , Rating: 2
Think I'm crazy? Moon rocks have gone missing before, and it's rumored that just a small sized moon rock goes for 6 figures on the black market.

I think in the US it is actually illegal to own a moon rock, that is why the black market figures are so high. There was a plaque given to each state back in the Apollo era with a small moon rock on it, some are now missing and the government keeps an eye on places like Ebay looking for anyone selling one. Most people don't even know they have something illegal who have them because someone in the state government gave it away or sold it a long time ago even though they were not supposed to.

I guess if a private company wanted to get around the US and other major nations control of space they could go somewhere like Honduras and build a space port, I'm sure a country like that would like the income from it. Maybe if we find an asteroid with a high gold content it would spark a space gold rush that would make it profitable for private companies to make the investment. Who knows, with the way the price of gold is currently going, it could happen.

RE: Good thing
By delphinus100 on 7/18/2011 8:04:30 PM , Rating: 2
I think in the US it is actually illegal to own a moon rock

No, not so much a moon rock, but NASA's moon rocks which, obviously, are government property. If you have the means to go get your own, go for it. There is no legal barrier that would prevent you. (Actual Lunar resource extraction is another matter, depending on how you interpret the 'common heritage of mankind' language of the Outer Space Treaty, to which the US is a signatory)

I guess if a private company wanted to get around the US and other major nations control of space they could go somewhere like Honduras and build a space port,

That's where you'd run into legal issues via ITAR:

...You simply aren't going to be able to move rocket technology out of the US like that. Even if you do all the R&D outside the US, you're bound by those laws, as long as you're a US citizen, no matter where you are.

RE: Good thing
By Laereom on 7/19/2011 11:04:34 AM , Rating: 1
Pff, forget gold.

The gold market would crash quite readily if you introduced a ton of it, because the demand for gold is ultimately driven by its scarcity; increasing the supply not only forces supply-side pressure on it, but people are also going to find it less attractive on the demand-side, as well.

Rare earth metals are where the money is at. They're in everything, they're damned expensive, they're becoming increasingly hard to obtain now that China is less willing to poison their population to obtain the stuff, and our demand for them is going to grow regardless of how much we find in the asteroids.

Indium is the shit. Fact.

"It's okay. The scenarios aren't that clear. But it's good looking. [Steve Jobs] does good design, and [the iPad] is absolutely a good example of that." -- Bill Gates on the Apple iPad
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