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How many satellite launches does it take to get to Mars?

07
Dec
2013

On Tuesday, SpaceX successfully launched a commercial communications satellite into orbit after two abortive attempts, a major milestone in entrepreneur Elon Musk’s lofty mission to build a private space program. In 2012, an ISS supply mission made SpaceX’s Dragon capsule the first privately owned spacecraft to dock with the station; And SpaceX’s success comes after years of worry about whether NASA is still capable of the grand feats it achieved in the mid-20th century — and speculation that SpaceX and its many competitors, not an old guard of aerospace companies and government agencies, will be the future of extraterrestrial exploration. Aerospace journalist Michael Belfiore says SpaceX is miles ahead of similar startups, calling it the lynchpin of America’s manned space program. Competitor Orbital Sciences has an established cargo program — this fall, it became the second private company to have a ship dock with the ISS — but it’s not planning manned trips, and Sierra Nevada’s Dream Chaser is too dependent on federal funding, Belfiore tells The Verge.

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