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"Exploration is really the essence of the human spirit and I hope we never forget that" - Frank Borman, Apollo 8 astronaut.

SpaceX, the company founded by visionary Elon Musk, has announced that it plans to send a space ship on Mars as early as 2018. You might be thinking - 'so what's the big deal? We have sent rovers on Mars before. Why is this news?' I am glad you asked. Well this time the spaceship being sent, named Red Dragon (a variant of Dragon 2 spacecraft), which will be an unmanned spaceship, will be used to learn how to land the sorts of large payloads humans would need should we ever colonize the red planet.

This is significant because it shows that we as humans, have begun essential work that will one day lay the groundwork for colonizing the red planet. It will not be only in movies anymore that we see humans jumping about on the surface of Mars or conducting experiments inside the white themed interiors of their housing pods that they will live in. It will be a reality. And the process has begun, and it is not limited to Mars.

“Dragon 2 is capable of transporting scientific payloads to anywhere in the solar system, with a liquid or solid surface, with or without an atmosphere. So Dragon is really a crew transport and science delivery platform,” Mr. Musk said, speaking after the Dragon 2 vehicle successfully conducted a Pad Abort test under the NASA Commercial Crew Program milestones.

SpaceX has entered into a no-funds-exchanged agreement with NASA for this mission. NASA has offered to provide some technical support relating to deep-space communications network and in return SpaceX will share all that it will learn from the mission with NASA. If the mission is successful we could see humans arrive on Mars by late 2020s. If the mission to the moon was a giant leap for mankind, I don't know what this will be! It could see us humans at the gates of being a space ferrying civilization. And isn't it the natural evolution of an intelligent civilization to expand its reach into the universe? Throughout history we have been doing the same on a micro level, discovering and claiming continents for ourselves. And one day we might be doing it on a much grander scale, discovering and claiming planets for ourselves! 

It really is a very interesting time to be alive.


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