As NASA puts to rest its 30-year-old space shuttle program, a private space transportation company is accelerating space travel with a new launch pad at Vandenberg Air Force Base. In a groundbreaking ceremony Wednesday at the base, Hawthorne-based Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) discussed its plans to replace the existing Titan IV launcher with a new launch pad for the Falcon Heavy — which, upon completion, will become the world’s largest launch vehicle by a factor of two. In the long term, SpaceX’s development of the Falcon Heavy fits into its mission “to make human life multiplanetary” by sending “large numbers of people” to Mars. Although Musk acknowledges that a mission to Mars may not be achievable for many years, he said the company is committed to “going to go as far and as fast as we can” toward achieving its ambitious goal.
July 16th, 2011