SpaceX and NASA to Launch Unmanned 'Red Dragon' Mars Mission in 2018
The successful re-entry mission of SpaceX Dragon spacecraft earned praises from the space technology community. But the private company owned by Elon Musk, SpaceX, is not yet done in showcasing their technology because NASA is also working with SpaceX to create the spacecraft for their unmanned mission to Mars in 2018. The spacecraft is aptly called the Red Dragon.
Red Dragon is an improved version of the Dragon spacecraft used for the recent resupply mission for the International Space Station (ISS). Red Dragon will be launched by Falcon Heavy Rocket as part of the NASA project to gather further data for Mars landing, according to a report by Space.Com.
Elon Musk have expressed his ambition to reach the Martian planet by 2018 and it could possibly happen because they landed with an agreement and funding from NASA. Musk is even preparing for future mission to Mars and creating one-of-a-kind spacesuits that will revolutionize how astronauts wear clothing in space.
Although Red Dragon is advanced, Musk expressed some drawback to his spacecraft.
"Wouldn't recommend transporting astronauts beyond Earth-moon region. Wouldn't be fun for longer journeys. Internal volume ~ size of SUV", Musk said in a tweet which means that the Red Dragon is not capable of housing and transporting space crew.
Dragon 2 is designed to be able to land anywhere in the solar system. Red Dragon Mars mission is the first test flight.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 27, 2016
Although there are not a lot of details available about the Red Dragon, Elon Musk is expected to announce the full project details of the mission this summer at the International Astronautical Conference in Mexico.
The role of SpaceX and Musk's powerful spacecraft in the journey to Mars is undeniable.
"When boosted on a Falcon Heavy, Dragon can go pretty much anywhere, so we're excited about exploring that possibility" Musk said in an interview. He added that the heat shield technology of the space craft will enable landing and entry in hotter planets like Mars.
For NASA the 2018 mission will provide more knowledge and a step closer to bringing man on Mars on 2030.
"We're particularly excited about an upcoming SpaceX project that would build upon a current 'no-exchange-of-funds' agreement we have with the company...In exchange for Martian entry, descent, and landing data from SpaceX, NASA will offer technical support for the firm's plan to attempt to land an un-crewed Dragon 2.
Because of lasting partnership between NASA and private companies like Elon Musk's SpaceX, we can expect an orchestrated play of technologies to enable men to finally reach the red planet.