Here's how SpaceX plans to land on Mars in 2018
On Wednesday, Elon Musk's private company SpaceX announced on Twitter that it plans to send a spacecraft to Mars as soon as 2018.The mission - which SpaceX is calling "Red Dragon" - will involve sending a Dragon 2 spacecraft to Mars to retrieve samples collected by NASA's Mars rover and then return them to Earth.
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
On December 21, 2015, SpaceX succesfully landed its first reusable rocket, a Falcon 9, on a launch pad. They followed that up on April 8, 2016 by successfully landing another Falcon 9 on a barge floating in the ocean. Musk has announced plans to relaunchSo what's cooler than landing a rocket on Earth? On Mars, of course.
Judging from the illustrations on their Flickr account, SpaceX plans to land on Mars using a simple approach that's never been tried before.This is SpaceX's Dragon spacecraft, which is not designed to carry humans, sitting on the Red Planet:
That rocket is SpaceX's Falcon Heavy, illustrated below, that is scheduled to launch out of Kennedy Space Center for the first time next year.tricky beast to control.The Martian atmosphere is about 1,000 times thinner than Earth's, so simple parachutes won't slow a vehicle down enough to land safely.
But that atmosphere is still thick enough to generate a great deal of heat from friction against a spacecraft.Therefore, to land on Mars you have to have a spacecraft with a heat shield that can withstand temperature of 1600 degrees Fahrenheit.
Luckily, Dragon's heat shield can protect it against temperatures of over 3,000 degrees Fahrenheit, so plummeting toward Mars, illustrated below, shouldn't be a problem heat-wise.
But wouldn't recommend transporting astronauts beyond Earth-moon region. Wouldn't be fun for longer journeys. Internal volume ~size of SUV.- Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 27, 2016
The Red Dragon mission marks an important milestone in the partnership between NASA and SpaceX, bringing them one step closer to achieving their goal of sending humans to Mars by the 2030s.
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