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NASA has just landed its new Mars Perseverance rover to scan for evidence of ancient microbial existence and further pave the way for human discovery. Since Sojourner, it is NASA's fifth explorer, the first device to trundle over another world's surface in 1997.

But although the trip is almost technologically within control, analysts agree that because of financing uncertainties, a human-crewed expedition is possibly still decades away. In the long-held objective of a crewed expedition, could Elon Musk's SpaceX, who is planning a first human flight in 2026, defeat NASA?

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