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Space & Astronomy

SpaceX ditches plans for 2018 Mars landing

By T.K. Randall
July 21, 2017 · Comment icon 4 comments



An artist's impression of Red Dragon landing on Mars. Image Credit: SpaceX
Plans to land a modified version of the company's reusable Dragon capsule on Mars have been scrapped.
With goals that include landing humans on Mars by as early as 2025, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk certainly cannot be faulted for his lack of ambition.

How realistic his timetable is in practice however is another matter entirely.

This week it was revealed that plans to land an unmanned, modified Dragon capsule on Mars in 2018 have now been scrapped so that another, less expensive spacecraft can be designed to replace it.

One of the biggest issues with using a Dragon capsule for the mission was that its thruster-based landing system was too risky to use on the boulder-strewn surface of Mars.

Complying with NASA's stringent safety requirements would have been almost impossible.
"There was a time that I thought the Dragon approach to landing on Mars, where you've got a base heat shield and side-mounted thrusters, would be the right way to land on Mars," said Musk.

The new replacement vehicle, which will be smaller, cheaper and use parachutes to land in place of thrusters, could be unveiled as early as September.

To help fund its "super-expensive" development, SpaceX is likely to ensure that it can be used for missions in to Earth's orbit as well as for missions to Mars.

"You make it capable of doing Earth orbit activity as well as Mars activity," said Musk.

"I think this one's got a shot of being real on the economic front."

Source: New Scientist | Comments (4)




Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by EBE Hybrid 6 years ago
The Martian atmosphere is so thin that the parachutes required for the replacement vehicle will have to be massive, but i image a wing styled 'chute would allow a certain ammount of glide control to improve landing accuracy, however great a parachute is, it's not going to help you get back into orbit, then again, if you can safely parachute land a fully fueled surface to orbit vehicle on the surface of Mars you stand a good chance of getting back to the
Comment icon #2 Posted by BeastieRunner 6 years ago
Didn't turn out too well for the landers, either, I reckon.
Comment icon #3 Posted by EBE Hybrid 6 years ago
It does seem that a lot of Mars probes have stacked it on landing, but maybe thats because the Martians living near the pyramids of cydonia are carting of the Earth Mars probes to see what they can flog 'em for on martian ebay, or get them valued on martiam bargain hunt
Comment icon #4 Posted by Lobotomy 6 years ago
This doesn't bode well for Mars One then does it?†How they are going to get out of this almighty hole they've dug for themselves is anyone's guess.


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