Elon Musk Gets Ready For Mars, ‘Red Dragon’ Misson To Launch In 2018

Businessman, investor, and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk announced on Twitter that his team is already working on a brand new space mission to Mars. Dubbed as “Red Dragon,” the mission will take place as soon as 2018.

“Planning to send Dragon to Mars as soon as 2018,” Musk posted on Twitter using the SpaceX account.

The 44-year-old Elon Musk, who is also the chief executive of Tesla Motors, took pride in the technology his team used in creating Dragon 2. He claims the transportation can land anywhere in the solar system.

He added that the Red Dragon Mars mission will be the first test flight.

One Twitter user replied and suggested that SpaceX should choose Venus for the second test. Also known as the “morning star and evening star,” Venus is a brightly-colored planet that has a thick atmosphere and very harsh weather conditions near its surface.

The investor and engineer replied to the Twitter user and said that while his Dragon 2 can still land on Venus, it can only last for about a few hours.

“Tough local environment,” he said.

Elon Musk pointed out that the Dragon 2 spacecraft will use “propulsive landing” as opposed to the other conventional landing methods like parachute or impact landing. This was made possible due to the eight “SuperDraco” engines that allow the spacecraft to land on solid ground.

His team has also included SpaceX’s very own high-tech heat shield to be able to land on any planet within the solar system.

If successful, SpaceX could be the first private spaceflight company to land a vehicle on another planet.

Unfortunately, Elon Musk clarified that getting to the destination is an entirely different problem that needs to be solved. On his Twitter account, he also said that sending an astronaut on board the Dragon going to anywhere outside of the Earth and moon region is not ideal.

“Wouldn’t be fun for longer journeys. Internal volume ~size of SUV,” he said, describing the estimated size of the spacecraft.

This is not the first time the Red Dragon concept for a Mars mission has been brought up. It was also via social media that people heard it first. In fact, SpaceX has already put up some artist impressions of how the space mission would look.

Unfortunately, to be successful in its mission to explore different worlds, there has to be some future technology that will allow manned spacecraft in the years to come.

Elon Musk has set the target year at 2018, which is only about one and a half year away. This also gives some information on how the project is going, and it seems the team is working hard to make the mission work.

According to NASA, it usually takes about eight months for a rocket to reach Mars from Earth. However, with the technology Elon Musk and SpaceX currently have, that time frame can be reduced.

Last year, the company showed off an animation of its Falcon Heavy rocket equipped with a tremendous blast off capability. It carried the weight of a commercial jetliner packed with passengers, luggage, and fuel.

Aside from the announced Red Dragon Mars mission, SpaceX is also preparing another satellite launch on May 3, a company representative said. The company will try to land the Falcon 9 booster at sea after launch.

The rocket that was used by the company in the memorable April 8 launch is still under testing. It could be relaunched this coming June.

[Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images]