JUL 23, 2017 8:28 AM PDT

SpaceX Steps Back From Ambitious Mars Goals to Re-think the Approach

WRITTEN BY: Anthony Bouchard

When you stop to ponder about putting humankind on Mars, two the biggest names in the space industry that come to mind are NASA and SpaceX. Both have expressed detailed plans of their own for initializing human presence on the red planet within the next few decades.

Despite all the enthusiasm, are we prepared to tackle such a task? That’s a question that doesn’t just cross our minds, but also that of SpaceX CEO Elon Musk; and now it’s showing. SpaceX appears to be scrapping some older plans to rethink how humans will visit Mars.

Originally, the plan was to utilize a Red Dragon capsule. While it's an impressive proof of concept for a lander-based interplanetary transportation system, it just isn’t an ideal travel platform for larger space crews to perform extended missions to Mars.

Elon Musk says that the Red Drgaon capsule will not be used for manned missions to Mars. Instead, something 'vastly bigger' will need to be made.

Image Credit: SpaceX/Twitter

"The reason we decided not to pursue that heavily is that it would've taken a tremendous amount of effort to qualify that for safety, particularly for crew transport," Musk said at the International Space Station Research and Development Conference that took place in Washington this past week.

“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,” he continued. "Now I'm pretty confident that is not the right way and that there’s a far better approach."

Related: Here's how SpaceX originally planned to put people on Mars

Instead, SpaceX will need to design something larger and more suitable for space crews. It will still need to follow stringent safety standards to ensure human visitors arrive at Mars safely.

“Plan is to do powered landings on Mars for sure, but with a vastly bigger ship,” Musk said in response to a Tweet about ditching Dragon propulsive landings.

These changes don't mean that a visit to Mars is completely off the table forever, but we will see delays in achieving a manned Martian landing as new technologies are developed. Although no one likes delays, they give SpaceX more time to tackle research and development and to get things right the first time.

As of right now, no one knows what such a 'vastly bigger ship' might look like or the differing capabilities it will have compared to the Red Dragon capsule.

SpaceX will continue to focus its efforts on reusable Falcon 9 rocket launches and landings all while perfecting the Falcon Heavy rocket, which will enable the commercial space company to send heavier satellites into orbit around the Earth.

SpaceX may revisit the Mars idea in the future when the technology and resources align with the goals, but today just isn't that day.

Source: Popular Science

About the Author
  • Fascinated by scientific discoveries and media, Anthony found his way here at LabRoots, where he would be able to dabble in the two. Anthony is a technology junkie that has vast experience in computer systems and automobile mechanics, as opposite as those sound.
You May Also Like
JUL 13, 2020
Space & Astronomy
Earth's Moon Had Magma Ocean for 200 Million Years
JUL 13, 2020
Earth's Moon Had Magma Ocean for 200 Million Years
The moon may have hosted an ocean of magma for 200 million years according to new findings- considerably longer than pre ...
SEP 07, 2020
Space & Astronomy
Earth's Atmosphere Causes Moon to Rust
SEP 07, 2020
Earth's Atmosphere Causes Moon to Rust
Researchers from the University of Hawaii have noticed that the Moon is turning slightly red or 'rusty'- and tha ...
SEP 15, 2020
Space & Astronomy
Carbon-rich Planets May Be Full of Diamonds
SEP 15, 2020
Carbon-rich Planets May Be Full of Diamonds
Researchers from Arizona State University and the University of Chicago have found that carbon-rich planets outside our ...
SEP 24, 2020
Chemistry & Physics
Turning Pulsars into Deep Space Beacons
SEP 24, 2020
Turning Pulsars into Deep Space Beacons
Navigating beyond Earth's orbit is tricky. Any misstep in movement could lead to the crushes of space probes and ves ...
NOV 02, 2020
Space & Astronomy
Never-Found-Before Molecule Detected in Titan's Atmosphere
NOV 02, 2020
Never-Found-Before Molecule Detected in Titan's Atmosphere
Astronomers have detected Cyclopropenylidene (C3H2) on Titan, one of Saturn's 53 confirmed moons. While the molecule ...
NOV 07, 2020
Space & Astronomy
Scientists Detect Origin of Fast Radio Burst in Milky Way
NOV 07, 2020
Scientists Detect Origin of Fast Radio Burst in Milky Way
Scientists have identified a burst of cosmic radio waves- intense flashes of radio emission that last just a few millise ...
Loading Comments...