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SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy Launch Brings Humanity One Giant Leap Closer To Mars

15 Feb 2018, 15:01 UTC
SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy Launch Brings Humanity One Giant Leap Closer To Mars
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The Falcon Heavy, as it was on the launch pad just before its maiden voyage. The successful launch not only has huge implications for the spaceflight industry and NASA’s public/private partnerships, but may be the long sought-after game-changer for going to Mars. Image credit: SpaceX.If you want to go where no one has gone before, you have to make the investment. Here’s what last week’s launch means.If you want to send humans to Mars, and have them stay there for more than a couple of weeks, there are a number of challenges to overcome. You have to first land, successfully, a slew of equipment on the martian surface. You have to have that equipment self-assemble to create a shielded habitat, protecting any humans from the harsh radiation, dust storms, and extreme temperatures that pervade Mars. And you have to have enough of it so that when the humans arrive, they have the 6–18 months of supplies necessary to sustain them until they can make a return trip. An endeavor like this was previously estimated to cost $50–150 billion: a prohibitive number for getting to Mars with NASA’s current budget. But with the first successful SpaceX Falcon Heavy launch, sending humans ...

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