SpaceX Plans To Go To Mars And Back In 2018
BY JAY BENNETT | Apr 28, 2016 | Technology
Last year, a research team from the NASA Ames Research Centre came up with an idea to use a modified SpaceX Dragon capsule to send a sample return mission to Mars. SpaceX responded to the idea, and the modified capsule design was dubbed the Red Dragon. A team of NASA and SpaceX engineers put a tentative timeline in place to attempt a sample return mission in 2022.
But SpaceX just tweeted an announcement that it plans to instead launch the mission in 2018.
Planning to send Dragon to Mars as soon as 2018. Red Dragons will inform overall Mars architecture, details to come pic.twitter.com/u4nbVUNCpA— SpaceX (@SpaceX) April 27, 2016
Details are still unclear, as the original plan was to have the Red Dragon capsule pick up samples gathered by the Mars 2020 rover and bring them back to Earth. Red Dragon would launch on a SpaceX Heavy Falcon rocket, descend to the Martian surface using onboard thrusters, grab samples from an existing rover with a robotic arm, and launch those samples back to Earth in a Mars ascent vehicle contained within the capsule.
SpaceX's Dragon capsules have been used successfully in ISS resupply missions a half-dozen times, and SpaceX is currently working on a crewed version of the Dragon called the Dragon V2. We will update this story as more information becomes available.
From: Popular Mechanics.