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Elon Musk and SpaceX look to focus on building a Mars Starship in Texas

They're aiming to make the leap from orbit to some place further and preferably redder.

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This concept illustration shows a SpaceX Starship on the moon.

SpaceX

Now that SpaceX has proven a commercial space company can safely transport humans to orbit, CEO Elon Musk says it's time to focus on taking them much further. 

The rocket pioneer said in an email to employees that he would like their focus to be accelerate development of the company's next-generation Starship "dramatically," according to reporting by CNBC.

"Please consider the top SpaceX priority (apart from anything that could reduce Dragon return risk) to be Starship," Musk wrote.  

The Crew Dragon spacecraft launched atop a Falcon 9 rocket last month from Cape Canaveral and carried NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley to the International Space Station. Its target date to return to Earth has yet to be determined.

Last year, NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine appeared to chide Musk in a tweet for the amount of attention being paid to Starship while the launch date for Crew Dragon was slipping further behind schedule. 

Starship is the huge spacecraft that Musk hopes will eventually transport humans to the moon and Mars. It has been under development at the company's Boca Chica, Texas, facility, but scaled-down prototypes have suffered a series of failures as SpaceX rapidly iterates and works toward its next test flight. 

The mandate to focus on Starship comes as the Los Angeles Times reports that SpaceX has canceled a plan to center at least part of its construction efforts at the Port of Los Angeles. The company has now twice been granted a permit to develop its big rockets at the port only to terminate the agreement later. 

In the internal email, Musk asked employees -- most of them located in the Los Angeles area -- to consider spending time at the Boca Chica facility to help accelerate Starship development. 

SpaceX didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.