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Surprising Science

Private Space Industry Looks Toward Mars

The private space company SpaceX has successfully launched a rocket that will soon carry supplies to the International Space Station. Its ultimate goal is a manned mission to Mars. 

What’s the Latest Development?

The private company SpaceX has successfully tested the launch preparedness of its Dragon capsule which will carry supplies to the International Space Station as early as next month. Made to be launched atop the Falcon 9 rocket, SpaceX’s ‘heavy-lift’ rocket capable of carrying large payloads to space, the Dragon capsule went through a five-hour readiness test including fueling and a full launch countdown. “We ran down the countdown clock to a planned abort at T – 5 seconds,” said SpaceX spokeswoman Kirstin Brost Grantham. 

What’s the Big Idea?

SpaceX has taken an early lead among companies investing in private space exploration. The firm currently has a $1.6 billion NASA contract for 12 unmanned missions to the ISS. Another company, Orbital Sciences Corp., is developing its own cargo freighter under a $1.9 billion NASA contract. While SpaceX’s Dragon capsule is currently designed for unmanned missions, the company “is also working on a crewed version of the capsule that it hopes will carry astronauts to the space station and, eventually, Mars.”

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