Mars is soon to welcome a new spacecraft from Earth, with SpaceX’s Dragon 2 planned to head to the red planet in 2018. But how will it work?
Elon Musk’s life goal of sending humankind to Mars was always going to be a long shot – we’ve never gone further than the moon, which we achieved 57 years ago.
“I’m not saying we will take people to Mars but we can take things as far as possible,” said Musk a few years back but, since then, that almost looks like an undersell.
In creating SpaceX, Musk has helped commercialise space deliveries and ramp up research techniques, like landing rockets safely to save hundreds of millions of dollars and, by 2018, NASA’s numerous lonely rovers rolling around the Red Planet will have a new introduction into their environment.
Recently tested Dragon 2’s SuperDraco propulsive landing system at our McGregor, TX facility. Key for Mars landing pic.twitter.com/dV1nhKDMhr
— SpaceX (@SpaceX) April 27, 2016
Welcome to Mars
The Dragon 2, known as the Red Dragon, is heading up in 2018. But how does it work? Well, Space.com made this wonderful infographic listing the spacecraft’s capabilities when it was first launched.
As Musk himself says, it’s not the roomiest, so sending people to Mars soon is still beyond us. But its innovative landing mechanisms, high-spec scientific equipment and general modernity makes for exciting times.
Working alongside NASA, the Red Dragon will be as much a research mission as anything else.
In a statement, NASA said it is providing “technical support” for SpaceX’s mission, without financial support. In exchange, SpaceX would provide “valuable entry, descent and landing data to NASA for our journey […] while providing support to American industry”.