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Space & Astronomy

SpaceX reveals plans for 2018 mission to Mars

By T.K. Randall
April 27, 2016 · Comment icon 13 comments

Can SpaceX really get a spacecraft to Mars by 2018 ? Image Credit: SpaceX
Elon Musk's private space firm is aiming to land a spacecraft on the Red Planet within just two years.
SpaceX has been going from strength to strength lately and now, following the successful landing of its reusable rocket on an ocean barge earlier this month, the company is setting its sights on Mars.

The ambitious plan, which will need to adhere to a very strict timetable, has also intrigued NASA which has pledged to help out where it can based on its own expertise in this area.

Elon Musk originally founded SpaceX 14 years ago with the ultimate goal of colonizing Mars and now it looks as though this dream might soon be taking another significant step forward.
There are even plans to attempt a manned mission by 2025 if the 2018 landing goes well.

Space historian John Logsdon of George Washington University however has advised caution, noting that SpaceX has yet to even successfully launch its Falcon Heavy rocket.

"To think that you can get this all together in two years since two of the key steps have not been demonstrated," he said while adding that SpaceX "likes to do bravado things."

Whether the company will be able to land a spacecraft on Mars so soon remains to be seen.

Source: Washington Post | Comments (13)

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #4 Posted by BeastieRunner 7 years ago
I don't think that timeline is doable one bit.
Comment icon #5 Posted by Nzo 7 years ago
Good luck?!
Comment icon #6 Posted by highdesert50 7 years ago
The classic hero's journey: the call to adventure, committing to change, tests, ordeal, road back, and mastery. A lore where the hero can do no wrong. A celebration of what we do best as humans.
Comment icon #7 Posted by crandles57 7 years ago
"The idea was conceived to be proposed for funding in 2013 and 2015 as the United States NASA Discovery mission #13 for launch in 2022,[4][5][6] but it was not submitted." Who is paying for this then? Still indicates that much preparation working out what modifications to Dragon are necessary have been going on since 2012 or maybe a little earlier. Even with work, 2018 does seem ambitious - first falcon heavy is not earlier than November 2016 Could it be SpaceX deciding waiting for funding which would be some time after 2022 is too long to ... [More]
Comment icon #8 Posted by psyche101 7 years ago
I love stories like this. Bite of more than you can chew, then chew like all ....... crazy!! I wish them the very best, if they can achieve this, it will be a benchmark for future missions. I know space is dicey, and we cannot take risks, they play out badly, but if it can be done, this will be an achievement that will inspire many. I wish them all the best of luck.
Comment icon #9 Posted by Merc14 7 years ago
I'm not so pessimistic as many here that SpaceX can't get a capsule to Mars in the next two years. Unlike a government run program, SpaceX can take a long term approach to things and has been planning on the Falcon 9 being tied into the Falcon Heavy since its inception and so designed it to that end and have been designing the Heavy since day one. NASA, the best in the world at getting things onto Mars and into orbit around it, are deeply involved with passing their knowledge on to the SpaceX engineers and mission planners (at least that is what they told we tourists when I visited Kennedy) an... [More]
Comment icon #10 Posted by Derek Willis 7 years ago
The biggest challenge will be actually ramping the Falcon 9 into the Falcon Heavy but it wouldn't surprise me if the maiden launch was this trip to Mars. Why not? If it fails it fails and there is no massive public outcry about wasted taxpayer money, no national embarrassment about NASA failing before the eyes of the world, SpaceX simply writes it off to testing (which is what this would be), learns from the mistakes and builds another, better one. There is a great freedom in this approach that NASA will never again have, I'm sad to say, which is one reason, I believe, that NASA is so involved... [More]
Comment icon #11 Posted by crandles57 7 years ago
it wouldn't surprise me if the maiden launch was this trip to Mars. Why not? If it fails it fails and there is no massive public outcry about wasted taxpayer money Nice idea, may as well use test flight for something, but the timetables don't seem to fit. Demo Falcon Heavy is supposed to be about November this year. Mars is being suggested that it will be a 2018 launch - miss that and it is about 2 years before next launch with planets in position for a relatively easy flight that does not need a lot more fuel. If the heavy gets delayed by more than a year then the timetable might fit but I wo... [More]
Comment icon #12 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf 7 years ago
The maiden flight of the Falcon Heavy is scheduled for later this year and is a demonstration flight with no paying customer. There are several commercial flights scheduled before this Mars mission. If all goes to plan the Falcon Hevy will be flying before the Red Dragon is ready.
Comment icon #13 Posted by Merc14 7 years ago
Thanks all, I didn't realize they had one scheduled already.

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