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To me this looked like it could be the key to the whole thing...

That is, the idea is that you build a high-speed airline with spaceports all over the world, refueled by huge solar arrays refining Ox and CH4 out of the air. Then it turns out your airliners, by virtue of the fact they are orbiters, can also launch satellites and go to Mars and other interplanetary destinations (where similar spaceport situations can be built).

The key to the whole thing is to make the second stage an orbiter big enough to do re-entry so the whole system is re-usable. Re-usable second stages are a giant pain, but if the secret is to get big, and that means you're kind of "accidentally" running an airliner, then perhaps SpaceX has found the right business model for commercial space flight in such high volume that things like going to Mars and asteroids and so forth are sort of on the cost order of chartering a private flight -- well within the reach of many organizations.




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