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SpaceX is a company created by Elon Musk that aims to achieve the objective of interplanetary travel while reducing the cost of space transportation. SpaceX is best known for its ambition to create a human colony on Mars.


American entrepreneur Elon Musk, who became a billionaire by selling Paypal, founded the company in California in 2002 as part of a project called Mars Oasis, which studied and explored ways to send a mini greenhouse to the Red Planet to grow interplanetary plants. After failing to get “cheap” rockets for the NASA project and returning empty-handed from a purchasing mission to Russia, Musk decided he would need to create his own rockets. Thus, SpaceX was born. Fifteen years later, SpaceX has nearly 6,000 employees, sent several rockets to the International Space Station and successfully returned to Earth with “recycled”rockets.

Today, SpaceX is developing the Dragon spacecraft and Falcon reusable rockets to send manned missions to Mars and space. the company is also studying and developing ways to create cost-effective rockets that can be used more than once, an interplanetary transport system and a global communications network. SpaceX is funded by a combination of venture capital, commercial and public contracts, which include agreements with NASA and the US Air Force, and private companies. Musk plans to keep the company private until his “Mars Colonial Transporter” flies regularly.

Falcon 9 rocket. Image credit: NASA

In particular, the company works under NASA’s commercial crew program, and therefore has a contract to send approximately four Dragon V2 missions to the ISS each year, three cargoes and one crew.

Despite the ultra-modern reputation these creators created SpaceX, it is no stranger to failure, and its failed rocket crashes have cost hundreds of millions of dollars in damage. For example, during a high-level disaster in 2016, a SpaceX failure destroyed a satellite owned by Facebook, designed to transmit broadband Internet to Africa. An unmanned Falcon 9 rocket exploded on the launch pad during a test in Florida, engulfing both the rocket and the $200 million Facebook satellite. The incident forced the company to take a four-month break.

In the future, SpaceX plans to send citizens around the Moon to its Dragon V2 spacecraft in 2018. The company selected two participants for the mission, which is funded by NASA and US citizens’ money. This journey will mark the new era of commercial space travel and if everything goes well, the company will develop its technologies to go faster and further.

Maquette of the Dragon V2 presented in August 2014. Credit image: NASA / Dimitri Gerondidakis

Musk’s ultimate goal is to send humans to Mars. As part of his plan to create a colony on the Red Planet, he hopes that the first spacecraft carrying humans will leave in the mid-2020s. Before that, he hopes that SpaceX will send an unmanned mission to Mars just before 2020.

Being the CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, Elon Musk, is not the only notable figure to have emphasized the desire for a colony on Mars and a rather short time frame to send people to the arid planet.

Professor Stephen Hawking said that humans must begin to leave Earth within the next 30 years if they are to avoid being wiped out by overpopulation and climate change. Donald Trump (and his words) also expressed the desire to send humans to Mars – either during his first term in office or by 2030, depending on his mood. NASA, on the other hand, is aiming at a plan over a two-decade period to send humans to the red planet.

Image credit on the front page: Mauricio Pampin.



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