Colonizing Mars has been a long cherished dream of Earth people. Of course, we love our world, but the manner in which we are treating our planet then perhaps colonizing Mars will be the last chance for our survival. Anyway, that dream just took a small leap with Elon Musk announcing that his revolutionary space company SpaceX will be ready to send a capsule to the Red Planet in 2018.
Red Dragon is one of the Dragon capsules made by SpaceX. The Dragon capsules are currently used for delivering supplies to the International Space Station.
An artist’s impression of the Red Dragon 2 capsule landing on Mars. SpaceX
Being a test flight, the capsule for Mars won’t be carrying astronauts.
Musk himself humourously added that the size of the capsule, which is approximately that of an SUV, is not fit for long journeys. If the mission becomes a success, it will pave the way for actual human expeditions to Mars, something NASA too has been planning to do by 2030 with help from external agencies.
In fact, NASA is helping SpaceX with the Red Dragon. In the absence of a thick atmosphere on Mars, the capsule will need to make a propulsive landing.
Mars is between 33.9 million miles (54.6 million kilometers) and 250 million miles (401 million km) from Earth depending on their respective orbital positions. When travelled in a straight line, which is practically impossible due to planet’s orbital motions, Earth’s fastest spacecraft – New Horizon’s – would take between 39 and 162 days to reach Mars. In reality the Mars Rover Mission took 254 days to reach the Red Planet. The Red Dragon 2 will be mounted on the new SpaceX Falcon rocket