SpaceX founder Elon Musk unveils spacecraft to ferry astronauts

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SpaceX founder Elon Musk on Thursday unveiled what he says will be the future of space travel: Dragon V2.

SpaceX founder Elon Musk on Thursday unveiled what he says will be the future of space travel: Dragon V2.

The capsule is designed to carry astronauts and dock with the International Space Station.

SpaceX says they will return to Earth in a capsule, like the Apollo missions of old. But unlike the Apollo missions, this capsule won't land in the ocean but on land, using its own thrusters. Musk says the cone-headed craft features a propulsion system designed to land almost anywhere "with the accuracy of a helicopter."

"So you can fly it multiple times, allowing for a dramatic reduction in the cost of space," said Musk.

Ever since NASA stopped its shuttle program and turned them into museum pieces, it's been paying Russia $70 million-plus per astronaut per ride to the space station. Musk said he'll lower that to at most $20 million per ride.

"It's not merely the fact that Russia is taunting the United States for lack of man access to space, but they're also massively overcharging," said Musk.

SpaceX has successfully docked its Dragon V1 with the International Space Station three times to deliver cargo. Dragon V2 is the company's first attempt at delivering people. It has room for seven astronauts.

"As the pilot, you're able to interact with the screens overhead, control the spacecraft," said Musk.

Musk first made his fortune envisioning PayPal. He's currently revolutionizing car design with the all-electric Tesla Motors.

He said when it comes to Space X, he wants to push the limits of human discovery.

"We really want to get to the point where there are thousands of space flights a year, and ultimately where we can have a base on the moon and a base on Mars and become a multi-planet species. That's where things need to go in the long-term," said Musk.

Musk says he hopes to have a flight to Mars within his lifetime and hopes to get the thousands of space flights a year within a few decades. As for the Dragon V2, the test flights are going to be in the next few years. He hopes to have astronauts in space by 2016.


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