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In the next 10 years, Elon Musk wants to send people to Mars.

By the end of this decade, the 42-year-old CEO and chief designer of Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) plans to ferry astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS). And next year, with the debut of a new Falcon Heavy rocket, Musk is aiming to fly reusable first-stage cores that could dramatically lower the cost of launch.

But for Musk, who founded SpaceX 12 years ago with the goal of colonizing other planets, the immediate future will be devoted to the more mundane task of launching commercial satellites.

After two flawless missions in December and January, during which the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket sent its first commercial payloads to geosynchronous transfer orbit (GTO), SpaceX is poised to take on established industry heavyweights, notably the European Ariane 5. The missions could also enable SpaceX to compete this year for launches of national security payloads that, until now, have been the sole proprietorship of the Boeing-Lockheed Martin joint venture United Launch Alliance, which manages government missions of the Delta 4 and Atlas 5 rockets.

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