Watch live: SpaceX is launching 4 astronauts aboard a recycled Crew Dragon spaceship for NASA on Friday

crew 2 astronauts spacex nasa
The Crew-2 astronauts pose during a training session at the SpaceX training facility in Hawthorne, California.

SpaceX is rocketing four astronauts toward the International Space Station (ISS) on Friday morning.

The company’s Crew Dragon spaceship is the first and only commercial vehicle to carry people into space. It’s now a cornerstone of NASA’s human spaceflight program.

Friday’s mission, called Crew-2, is the second routine astronaut flight that SpaceX is conducting for NASA. The agency has contracted six Crew Dragon missions in total. The first one, Crew-1, is still on the ISS. Those astronauts will be welcoming the four newcomers: Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur of NASA, Akihiko Hoshide of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, and Thomas Pesquet of the European Space Agency.

SpaceX NASA
The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket lifts off from Launch Complex 39-A at Kennedy Space Center.

“We want this to become a regular way to get to the space station, which means, I don’t know, down the line hundreds of launches maybe,” Pesquet said during a March news conference.

The astronauts have ascended a launch tower to the top of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and climbed aboard the Crew Dragon capsule that’s secured to the top. They’re set to roar into space at 5:49 a.m. ET on Friday.

“We’re ready and we’re excited to fly,” McArthur said in the news conference.

Watch the historic spaceflight on NASA’s livestream below.

Watch SpaceX’s recycled Crew Dragon Endeavour fly to space again

NASA TV has live coverage of the preparations, launch countdown, and liftoff:

NASA’s live coverage of the Crew-2 launch began at 1:30 a.m. ET on Friday, as the astronauts got suited up in their SpaceX spacesuits. After that, the astronauts said goodbye to their families, drove to the launchpad in a pair of custom Teslas, ascended the launch tower, and climbed aboard Crew Dragon.

With the astronauts strapped in and the spaceship’s hatch sealed shut, the rocket will be loaded with cryogenically chilled propellant in the 35 minutes before liftoff. If all goes well, it should roar past the launchpad, toward space at 5:49 a.m. ET.

This particular Crew Dragon capsule, named Endeavour, is the same one that flew the first commercial spaceflight last year, carrying NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley to the ISS in a demonstration mission. The capsule has since been refurbished and upgraded.

McArthur will pilot the spaceship, just as Behnken (her husband) did last summer.

crew dragon spaceship orbit earth crew 1 docking international space station
The Resilience capsule approaches the International Space Station for docking, November 16, 2020.

“I’m going to launch in the same seat. So that is kind of a fun thing that we can share, you know, I can tease him and say, ‘Hey, Can you hand over the keys? I’m ready now to go,'” McArthur recently said in a press call.

The Falcon 9 booster, which is also reusable, is the same one that launched Crew-1 in November.

Friday’s launch was originally set for Thursday morning, but NASA rescheduled because of an unfavorable weather forecast. If weather prevents the flight again on Friday, the agency may have its next launch opportunity on Monday.

After launch, Crew Dragon must orbit Earth and dock to the ISS

crew dragon resilience crew-1 docking international space station spacex nasa
The Resilience capsule docks to the International Space Station on November 16, 2020.

Once the Crew Dragon slips into orbit, it will stay there for nearly 24 hours. The astronauts will likely change out of their spacesuits, eat, get a full night’s sleep, have breakfast, organize their belongings, and, eventually, put their spacesuits back on to prepare for arrival at the ISS.

SpaceX and NASA expect the Crew Dragon to perform a series of automated maneuvers to dock to the ISS around 5:10 a.m. on Saturday. The astronauts have to be suited up in case something goes wrong and the Crew Dragon has to prematurely return to Earth. NASA TV will broadcast the docking operation as well.

crew 2 astronauts crew dragon spaceship
The Crew-2 astronauts during a training session in Hawthorne, California. Left to right: Thomas Pesquet, Megan McArthur, Shane Kimbrough, and Akihiko Hoshide.

The ISS will be crowded with 11 people for at least four days while Crew-1 is still on board. Those astronauts – Shannon Walker, Victor Glover, Mike Hopkins, and Soichi Noguchi – will climb back into their own Crew Dragon capsule as early as April 28.

Their capsule, called Resilience, will then undock from the ISS, push itself toward Earth, and plummet through the atmosphere. Parachutes should release, allowing the spaceship to drift to a splashdown off the coast of Florida.

The Crew-2 astronauts will return in a similar fashion in about six months.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Watch SpaceX launch 4 astronauts to the International Space Station for NASA on Friday

crew 2 astronauts spacex nasa
The Crew-2 astronauts pose during a training session at the SpaceX training facility in Hawthorne, California.

SpaceX is rocketing four astronauts toward the International Space Station (ISS) on Friday morning.

The company’s Crew Dragon spaceship is the first and only commercial vehicle to carry people into space. It’s now a cornerstone of NASA’s human spaceflight program.

Friday’s mission, called Crew-2, is the second routine astronaut flight that SpaceX is conducting for NASA. The agency has contracted six Crew Dragon missions in total. The first one, Crew-1, is still on the ISS. Those astronauts will be welcoming the four newcomers: Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur of NASA, Akihiko Hoshide of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, and Thomas Pesquet of the European Space Agency.

SpaceX NASA
The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket lifts off from Launch Complex 39-A at Kennedy Space Center.

“We want this to become a regular way to get to the space station, which means, I don’t know, down the line hundreds of launches maybe,” Pesquet said during a March news conference.

The astronauts are set to ascend a launch tower to the top of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, climb aboard the Crew Dragon capsule that’s secured to the top, then roar into space at 5:49 a.m. ET on Friday.

“We’re ready and we’re excited to fly,” McArthur said in the news conference.

Watch the historic spaceflight on NASA’s livestream below.

Watch SpaceX’s recycled Crew Dragon Endeavour fly to space again

crew dragon spaceship orbit earth crew 1 docking international space station
The Resilience capsule approaches the International Space Station for docking on November 16, 2020.

NASA will begin live coverage of the Crew-2 launch at 1:30 a.m. ET on Friday, as the astronauts get suited up in their SpaceX spacesuits. After that, the astronauts will say goodbye to their families, drive to the launchpad in a pair of custom Teslas, ascend the launch tower, and climb aboard Crew Dragon.

With the astronauts strapped in and the spaceship’s hatch sealed shut, the rocket will be loaded with cryogenically chilled propellant. If all goes well, it should roar past the launchpad, toward space at 5:49 a.m. ET.

NASA TV has live coverage of the preparations, launch countdown, and liftoff:

This particular Crew Dragon capsule, named Endeavour, is the same one that flew the first commercial spaceflight last year, carrying NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley to the ISS in a demonstration mission. The capsule has since been refurbished and upgraded.

McArthur will pilot the spaceship, just as Behnken (her husband) did last summer.

“I’m going to launch in the same seat. So that is kind of a fun thing that we can share, you know, I can tease him and say, ‘Hey, Can you hand over the keys? I’m ready now to go,'” McArthur recently said in a press call.

The Falcon 9 booster, which is also reusable, is the same one that launched Crew-1 in November.

Friday’s launch was originally set for Thursday morning, but NASA rescheduled because of an unfavorable weather forecast. If weather prevents the flight again on Friday, the agency may have its next launch opportunity on Monday.

After launch, Crew Dragon must orbit Earth and dock to the ISS

crew dragon resilience crew-1 docking international space station spacex nasa
The Resilience capsule docks to the International Space Station on November 16, 2020.

Once the Crew Dragon slips into orbit, it will stay there for nearly 24 hours. The astronauts will likely change out of their spacesuits, eat, get a full night’s sleep, have breakfast, organize their belongings, and, eventually, put their spacesuits back on to prepare for arrival at the ISS.

SpaceX and NASA expect the Crew Dragon to perform a series of automated maneuvers to dock to the ISS around 5:10 a.m. on Saturday. The astronauts have to be suited up in case something goes wrong and the Crew Dragon has to prematurely return to Earth. NASA TV will broadcast the docking operation as well.

crew 1 astronauts crew dragon spaceship
The Crew-2 astronauts during a training session in Hawthorne, California. Left to right: Thomas Pesquet, Megan McArthur, Shane Kimbrough, and Akihiko Hoshide.

The ISS will be crowded with 11 people for at least four days while Crew-1 is still on board. Those astronauts – Shannon Walker, Victor Glover, Mike Hopkins, and Soichi Noguchi – will climb back into their own Crew Dragon capsule as early as April 28.

Their capsule, called Resilience, will then undock from the ISS, push itself toward Earth, and plummet through the atmosphere. Parachutes should release, allowing the spaceship to drift to a splashdown off the coast of Florida.

The Crew-2 astronauts will return in a similar fashion in about six months.

Read the original article on Business Insider

An apparent meteor shower over the Pacific Northwest was actually burning space debris from a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket – take a look

Elon Musk
SpaceX CEO Elon Musk.

  • Debris from a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket was streaking across the skies above Seattle and Portland on Thursday.
  • Astronomer Jonathan McDowell tweeted that it would probably fall in the Rockies near the Canadian border.
  • The space junk was from Starlink’s 20th mission at the start of May, he said.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

The bright lights hurtling across the sky in the Pacific Northwest on Thursday were made by burning space debris from a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket falling back to Earth.

People in Seattle and Portland started posting videos online of what they initially thought was a meteor shower.

The National Weather Service Seattle later posted on Twitter that the bright objects were debris from one of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rockets “that did not successfully have a deorbit burn.”

A “deorbit burn” is when a rocket flips tail-first and fires its engines, to allow it to re-enter the Earth’s atmosphere, according to NASA.

Jonathan McDowell, an astronomer at Harvard University, posted on Twitter that the objects streaking across the Pacific Northwest were the second stage of a Falcon 9 rocket that was launched on March 4. The debris was re-entering the atmosphere after 22 days in orbit, he said.

The falling debris is “unlikely to be major,” he tweeted, and “would probably fall in the Rockies near the Canadian border.”

McDowell said in a separate tweet that this is the 14th piece of space junk weighing over one tonne that had come back down to Earth since January 1.

SpaceX regularly launches rockets from sites in California, Florida and Texas.

The rocket launch on March 4, from which McDowell said the debris came from, blasted 60 satellites into orbit for SpaceX’s 20th Starlink mission. It was SpaceX’s sixth Starlink launch of 2021.

The satellites were adding to a rapidly expanding constellation of satellites beaming the internet down to Earth. Currently, there are around 1,300 Starlink satellites in orbit, and the company wants to eventually launch up to 42,000.

Here are some of the scenes that people in the Pacific NW witnessed on Thursday:

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SpaceX’s Starlink: Everything you need to know about Elon Musk’s internet service

Elon Musk
SpaceX CEO Elon Musk.

  • Starlink is SpaceX’s broadband service that beams down internet from satellites launched into orbit.
  • Since its launch in October, it has more than 10,000 users and operates in more than six countries.
  • Here’s everything you need to know about Elon Musk’s Starlink.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

Elon Musk is inching ever closer to fulfiling his dream of creating super-fast internet around the world, which beams down from satellites in orbit to Earth.

In the past two weeks, SpaceX’s Starlink internet has reached more than 10,000 users worldwide and started offering $99 preorders of the service to more countries and cities on a global scale.

Starlink’s public beta test, known as “Better Than Nothing Beta,” launched in October and has been a big hit with those living in remote areas of northern US, where it was first rolled out.

What’s the hype about Starlink?

SpaceX is building an expansive satellite internet network in space called Starlink

The aerospace company launched its first batch of Starlink satellites into orbit in May 2019. Now, it has over 1,000 working satellites prepped for the service. The goal is to have up to 42,000 satellites in orbit by mid-2027.

The satellites are strapped onto the top of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket and blasted into orbit, usually releasing 60 satellites per launch.

The goal is to create a high-speed broadband system generated by satellites which envelope Earth and provide internet to people especially in rural areas without connection.

spacex falcon 9 rocket launch starlink internet satellites 13th mission cape canaveral florida beach family GettyImages 1228923231 edit
Spectators watch from Canaveral National Seashore as a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying 60 Starlink satellites launches.

Starlink isn’t cheap

A subscription to the beta is currently $99 a month. It costs a further $499 for the Starlink kit, which includes a mounting tripod, a WiFi router, and a terminal to connect to the satellites.

On Monday, the company began offering preorders of Starlink to other countries so users can now put down a $100 deposit to get their hands on the service once it becomes available. The deposit will be applied to the amount due on the Starlink kit.

Overall users will be paying $600 upfront for Starlink.

Users the UK are paying £439 for the kit and £89 for the subscription fee. Compared to other internet providers that charge £79 per month for speeds of up to 516 Mbps, this isn’t cheap.

On the SpaceX side, the company in December won $885 million in federal subsidies to expand Starlink, but small internet service providers say this shouldn’t be allowed because Musk’s firm is using “unproven” technology.

spacex starlink user terminal phased array consumer satellite internet dish antenna ufo on a stick roof los angeles california website
A photo of SpaceX’s Starlink user terminal, or satellite dish, installed on a roof. Company founder Elon Musk has called such devices “UFOs on a stick,” and they’re designed to connect to the internet via a fleet of orbiting spacecraft.

The fastest speed recorded so far is 215 Mbps

SpaceX said in an email to Starlink beta test subscribers in October that they should expect speeds between 50 and 150 Mbps, with intermittent outages. But some users are hitting much higher speeds.

A list compiled by Reddit’s Starlink community shows the fastest download speed so far was 209.17 Mbps, recorded in New York. One person in Utah recorded in December their speed test showing 215 Mbps.

Starlink has even reached speeds of 175 Mbps in freezing temperatures, high winds and snow. Users have been impressed with the terminal heating up enough to melt any snow or frost on top of it.

Snow is melting on the Starlink user terminal
Snow melting on Starlink terminal.

It’s available to preorder in six countries

Starlink was initially operating in parts of the northern USsouthern Canada, and, most recently, in the UK.

On Monday, Starlink began opening up preorders to other parts of the world. 

People in Australia, New Zealand, Mexico, and parts of the US and Canada – where Starlink is not yet up and running – confirmed on Twitter and Reddit they were able to put down a deposit to get the internet service in mid to late 2021.

Read more: Here’s how many millions of users Starlink may need to break even if it loses $2,000 for every satellite dish it sells, according to experts

More countries could green-light Starlink this year, including Spain, Italy, India, Japan and the Caribbean, according to a report from Teslarati

Insider explained Tuesday how to sign up for the service which works on “first-come, first-served basis.”

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A photo illustration of a satellite-tracking app showing one of SpaceX’s Starlink internet-beaming spacecraft on a map of Earth.

Starlink has helped rural communities get online

SpaceX agreed in October to provide internet to a rural school district in Texas next year via Starlink. A total of 45 families will get internet access in the area, followed by an additional 90 families later on.

Scott Muri, the district’s superintendent, told Insider he agreed to the deal because so many students’ families have “zero internet” and no conventional way to get it.

Then in December, SpaceX connected up Pikangikum First Nation, a remote 3,000-person indigenous community in north-western Ontario, to Starlink. Before the internet service, Pikangikum couldn’t offer higher education or healthcare, and struggled with high suicide rates. Now, they’re able to access everything.

Dave Brown, CEO of FSET, the company that linked up SpaceX and Pikangikum, said in an interview with Insider: “We took a community that was one of the most technologically disadvantaged anywhere in the world. They’ve now become one of the most technologically advanced, yet are still remote, living where they are and not having to move.”

Have you setup Starlink recently? How are you finding it? Get in touch with this reporter via email: kduffy@insider.com.

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SpaceX says its Starlink satellite internet, still in beta, now has more than 10,000 users worldwide

Elon Musk
SpaceX CEO Elon Musk.

  • SpaceX said in a public filing Thursday that Starlink has more than 10,000 users in the US and abroad.
  • Elon Musk’s aerospace company launched the Starlink public beta in October.
  • In the filing, SpaceX requested that it be made eligible for federal cash to expand Starlink.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

SpaceX’s Starlink satellite internet service has amassed more than 10,000 users across the world, just four months after entering beta, Elon Musk’s aerospace company said in a filing Thursday.

SpaceX said in a petition to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) that “over 10,000 users in the United States and abroad are using the service today.”

In the petition, SpaceX asked the FCC to be designated an “Eligible Telecommunications Carrier” (ETC), making it eligible for federal cash, including the money from the FCC’s Rural Digital Opportunities Fund (RDOF) that it won in December. 

The RDOF is a $20.4 billion effort to spread high-speed internet across America, particularly to rural regions.

Read more: SpaceX is finalizing a massive new funding round. Here’s why investors are clamoring for one of the world’s most valuable startups.

The FCC in December awarded SpaceX nearly $900 million to expand Starlink in the US as part of the first phase of the RDOF.

But SpaceX didn’t immediately get the money. It must clear more hurdles and provide more detail on its plans – the ETC is part of this.

SpaceX said the ETC would help it quickly expand its service to new areas, specifically Alabama, Connecticut, New Hampshire, New York, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia.

The petition noted that the space firm won access to those areas under the RDOF.

SpaceX’s award under the RDOF has annoyed small internet service providers, who said on Thursday that the company, as well as other large firms, used “unproven” technology and called on the FCC to “aggressively” vet winning applications.

The Starlink public beta test, called “Better Than Nothing Beta,” now operates in the northern US, Canada, and parts of Europe. UK regulators approved Starlink in January and Insider spoke to one of the first British users to receive the Starlink kit.

Speeds vary from 50 Mbps to 150 Mbps, SpaceX said in an email to subscribers when the beta launched. Access costs $99 a month, plus $499 upfront for a kit with a tripod, a WiFi router, and a terminal to connect to the satellites.

So far, the company has launched more than 1,000 working satellites into orbit via its reusable Falcon 9 rocket. The most recent launch was on Thursday, when the Falcon 9 delivered 60 Starlink satellites into orbit. 

The goal is to build a high-speed internet service which stretches across the world. SpaceX wants to launch up to 42,000 satellites by mid-2027.

Read the original article on Business Insider

SpaceX to launch billionaire Jared Isaacman into space with a mission of 3 private astronauts on the Crew Dragon

jared isaacman spacex crew dragon
Jared Isaacman at SpaceX in Hawthorne, California.

  • Billionaire Jared Isaacman has bought seats on a SpaceX Crew Dragon spaceship to launch himself, a healthcare worker and two others — to be selected via sweepstakes — into orbit in late 2021.
  • The mission, called Inspiration4, will be the first ever to fly a crew of people who aren’t professional astronauts into space.
  • “The risk is not zero,” SpaceX founder Elon Musk said, but this is a big step toward making spaceflight affordable and accessible.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

SpaceX is planning a first-of-its-kind spaceflight for the end of this year: launching a crew of people who aren’t professional astronauts into Earth’s orbit.

The mission is called Inspiration4. SpaceX announced on Monday that it’s targeting the fourth quarter of 2021 for launch, after 37-year-old billionaire Jared Isaacman bought a four-person flight aboard the company’s Crew Dragon spaceship.

Isaacman founded the payment processing company Shift4 Payments in 1999, and in 2011 co-founded Draken International, which owns an expansive fleet of fighter jets and trains pilots for the US military. Though he says he has spent over 6,000 hours flying jets and ex-military aircraft, he has never been to space. Neither have the three people he plans to put in the Dragon’s other seats.

That will make Inspiration4 the first mission in history to fly an entirely private commercial crew.

“This is an important milestone towards enabling access to space for everyone,” Elon Musk, who founded SpaceX in 2002, said in a call with reporters on Monday. “Because at first things are very expensive, and it is only through missions like this that we’re able to bring the cost down over time and make space accessible to all.”

elon musk space x SpaceX Chief Engineer Elon Musk speaks in front of Crew Dragon cleanroom at SpaceX Headquarters in Hawthorne, California on October 10, 2019. (Photo by Yichuan Cao/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
Elon Musk speaks in front of Crew Dragon cleanroom at SpaceX Headquarters in Hawthorne, California on October 10, 2019.

Isaacman has already selected his first crew member: an unnamed woman who is a healthcare worker. She will serve as an “ambassador” for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, which is benefitting from a fundraising effort that will help select the second crew member. That person will be chosen from a month-long sweepstakes aiming to raise $100 million for childhood-cancer research at St. Jude, in addition to a $100-million donation from Isaacman.

“If we’re going to continue making advances up there in space, then we have an obligation to do the same down here on Earth,” Isaacman said during the call.

The third Inspiration4 seat will go to an entrepreneur who creates an online store for their business using Isaacman’s company’s ecommerce service, Shift4Shop.

Requirements for eligibility include being 18 or older and being a US resident. Potential crew members will also undergo a basic medical screening, Musk said.

“If you can go on a roller coaster ride, like an intense roller coaster ride, you should be fine for flying on Dragon,” he added.

The crew selections are to be announced by the end of February. Then, the crew will immediately begin SpaceX’s astronaut-training program, with Isaacman making some additions inspired by his mountain-climbing experience.

“I intend to get four people in a tent that I can attest is absolutely smaller than the Dragon spacecraft, on a mountain when it’s snowing out, and introduce everybody to some really stressful situations,” Isaacman said. “We are all going to know each other incredibly well long before we ever strap into Dragon.”

‘Pioneers’ of a new era of private space exploration

SpaceX launched the first-ever commercial spaceflight in May 2020, rocketing NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley to the International Space Station on a demonstration mission called Demo-2.

After the Crew Dragon safely returned Behnken and Hurley to Earth, parachuting them into the Gulf of Mexico two months after their launch, SpaceX began the first of six ISS-rotation missions that NASA contracted from the company.

The Crew-1 mission launched SpaceX’s first full crew of four astronauts in November, aboard a Dragon capsule named Resilience, which remains attached to the ISS until the astronauts return in spring.

That’s the spaceship that SpaceX plans to give Isaacman for his mission later this year.

crew dragon spaceship orbit earth crew 1 docking international space station
The Resilience capsule approaches the International Space Station for docking, November 16, 2020.

“Any mission where there’s a crew onboard makes me nervous,” Musk told NBC News’s Tom Costello in an interview that aired on Monday. “The risk is not zero.”

“When you’ve got a brand new mode of transportation, you have to have pioneers,” he added.

Inspiration4 is set to launch aboard a Falcon 9 from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida. The rocket should push the capsule into Earth’s orbit, where it will orbit at whatever altitude Isaacman wants, for as long as Isaacman wants.

“Where do you want to go? We’ll take you there,” Musk said to him during Monday’s call, adding, “You can change your mind too.”

For now, the plan is to orbit at the ISS altitude of about 250 miles (400 kilometers) for two to four days, according to Isaacman and Musk. It’s not yet clear what they will do with their time in space. Isaacman said it will involve “some experiments” for research institutions like St. Jude, but he declined to elaborate.

“We’re going to release details in the near future as to the payload and experiments that we hope to bring on board,” he said.

Via missions like these, Musk hopes that the cost of spaceflight with SpaceX will drop “exponentially” over time, since they will help fund the development of his company’s Starship-Super Heavy launch system. SpaceX is designing and test-launching prototypes of that future system at its facilities in Boca Chica, Texas. Musk wants the final launch system – which may stand 120 meters (394 feet) tall – to be fully reusable.

starship reusable rocket spaceship prototype sn8 serial number 8 launch boca chica texas december 9 2020 50703878421_7712bb60d3_o
SpaceX’s Starship serial No. 8 rocket-ship prototype launches from a pad in Boca Chica, Texas, on December 9, 2020.

If it works, Starship might slash the cost of reaching space about 1,000-fold, power round-the-world hypersonic travel on Earth, and fly astronauts to the moon. Musk’s ultimate plan is to build 1,000 Starships, use them to fly people and cargo to Mars, and build an independent, self-sustaining city there.

“The key to being affordable to all is full and rapid reusability, so that would be with the Starship program,” he said.

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