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Written by: Marco Santana
A component of SpaceX CEO Elon Musk’s plan to establish spaceflight to Mars gained a critical component recently when he announced how he intends to pay for it — and part of the plan involves more frequent flights that can use smaller rockets.By developing a smaller vehicle, with a booster and ship that could replace the company’s Falcon 9, Falcon Heavy and Dragon spacecraft, SpaceX could more frequently launch into low-earth orbit, increasing revenue opportunities.
That money could then be poured into the development of the BFR.
Musk’s plans could bring more work to Central Florida and the Space Coast, a state official said Tuesday.
“This location remains the spot in the U.S. that makes the most sense to do any serious deep-space exploration from,” said Dale Ketcham, Space Florida’s chief of strategic alliances.
Musk said the company would build a stock of Falcon 9 and Dragon spacecrafts, in case some customers prefer those vehicles, before they focus primarily on BFR.
SpaceX has plans to open a third launch site in the south Texas town of Brownsville. Along with Cape Canaveral, SpaceX launches from Vandenburg Air Force Base in California.
Another potential revenue source: A trip from London to New York in the future via SpaceX craft could be completed in as little as 29 minutes, Musk said.
In what was essentially a grand finale to a 42-minute speech at the International Astronautical Congress in Adelaide, Australia, on Friday, Musk said the rockets SpaceX would use to ferry supplies and gear to the Red Planet could be used on Earth to speed air travel.
It would significantly decrease travel time, he said.
“If we are building this thing to go to the moon and Mars, then why not go to other places?” he said.
In a digital mock up of the technology, a group of passengers was ferried out from New York City to a launch pad in the ocean.
They then board the flight and the rocket takes off.
After the rocket separates from a booster — a process SpaceX rockets perform every launch — it would carry passengers into space for a brief period of time, before ultimately landing on a pad at the planned destination.
Musk at the conference last year introduced the idea of a massive rocket used to transport humans and gear to Mars known as BFR.
The potential high-speed travel is part of Musk’s continuing pursuit of making humans an interplanetary species, with his frequently stated goal being to send humans to Mars.
The first rocket to land on Mars could get there as early as 2022, Musk said.
Ketcham said any Musk’s plans may sound sensational but that he still didn’t doubt his ability to pull them off.
“The guy has earned the credibility to be taken very seriously,” he said.
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