With the International Space Station still up and running, supplies need to be transported to and from the ISS. Private companies have jumped into this shipping market. SpaceX, led by founder Elon Musk, will make 11 cargo resupply missions to the ISS through 2016, under a $1.6 billion contract from NASA.

The primary purpose of these missions is clear: resupply the ISS. But secondarily, SpaceX is using these missions to build out their goal of transporting people in the ultimate pursuit of human space exploration: inhabiting Mars – all while attempting to build reusable rockets to get there.

And once we inhabit Mars, the final frontier will be redefined.

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