Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) and NASA are in the process of developing and refining a Dragon spacecraft intended to launch to Mars by 2018.
A manned mission to Mars has been a long-term goal for SpaceX, and with that possibility in sight, their goal is to reach even further. Elon Musk, the SpaceX founder recently announced on Twitter that the new Dragon will be designed to land anywhere in space. Mars will be its first destination.
The current Dragon model carries a significant amount of cargo to Earth, but this new project aims to have humans transported as well. The Dragon has an internal capability the size of a sports utility vehicle, which will provide an environment that is not only comfortable, but also safe for those on board.
Currently, versions of the Dragon’s cargo capsule are flown to and from the International Space Station under SpaceX’s contract with NASA valued at just under $2 billion. Meanwhile, under another contract valued at $2.6 billion, SpaceX is working on making the Dragon capsule available for astronauts to be transported as well.
NASA has made a statement informing that it will not take part in SpaceX’s Mars mission financially. Instead, NASA has announced that they will be providing technical support in exchange for data from SpaceX. Information on entry, descent, and landing, that could be essential for the firm’s own mission to Mars planned for some time in the 2030s.
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