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Tesla is Reaching for the Stars

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On: Mon, Jun 2, 2014 at 2:33PM | By: Karen Cook

Tesla is Reaching for the Stars

Most auto manufacturers keep their eyes on the proverbial road. Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla Motors, is reaching for the stars. Tesla controls a company called Space Exploration Technologies Corp (SpaceX) and they have developed a “Space Taxi” that is almost ready to begin transporting crew members back and forth from the International Space Station.

The company has already produced the Dragon space capsule that has proven itself through several cargo missions since 2012. The most recent was completed on May 18th of this year when it returned with 3,500 pounds of cargo and scientific samples.

Since NASA no longer maintains its own shuttle fleet, the United States has depended on the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) and its Soyuz rockets. One mission costs the US about $76 million. Without much funding, NASA is at the mercy of the Russian monopoly on spacecraft. Recently however NASA has spent some of its meager funds to encourage four companies to produce rockets to carry crew and cargo. Boeing, Jeff Bezo's Blue Origin, Sierra Nevada Corp, and SpaceX are all vying for the contract. To put the importance of this development into perspective, SpaceX's Falcon 9 v1.1 rocket can perform the same duties as the Soyuz for around $20 million per mission. And the money stays in the US.

While the Dragon is sufficient for cargo, it cannot carry passengers. Enter the Dragon V2. It will be able to transport seven people plus four tons of cargo. It has been provided with legs and re-entry rockets which will allow it to land anywhere, not just in California or Florida. “We actually expect to be able to transport crew by 2016, a year before NASA needs it.” says Elon Musk of the project. He would also like to help the Defense Department with satellite launches.

So let Honda and Toyota handle the easy stuff. Tesla prefers a challenge that will take us to the heavens.

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