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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 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.


"And boy have we patented it!" -- Steve Jobs, Macworld 2007

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