Apr 272016

Elon Musk has announced that SpaceX is planning on using a Falcon 9 Heavy to launch a modified and unmanned Dragon 2 space capsule to Mars. In 2018.




Seems the Dragon 2 has been designed to be an all-round planetary lander, supposedly good for “anywhere in the solar system” (oh, yeah, smart guy? Like, the sun? Jupiter? Detroit?). That’s certainly handy, but they’ll need an ascent vehicle if they want to send (and recover) humans.

 Posted by at 5:02 pm
  • sferrin

    “That’s certainly handy, but they’ll need an ascent vehicle if they want to send (and recover) humans.”

    The slow and steady win the race. (Or in this case, the fast and steady.)

  • I forgot my name

    Wait, when is the heavy supposed to first fly? On that mission?

    • Tango_Charlie

      Heavy is supposed to fly out of LC-39 on the cape late this year on a demonstration flight. With an additional USAF demonstrator next year as well as a paying customer next year.

  • John Nowak

    If they pull this off, will this be the second most massive thing to land somewhere that isn’t Earth?

    • publiusr

      I think so. The Lunokhod was pretty heavy as well. The base had to burn all the way down. With other Mars craft, you just had that backshell. It took Proton to lob the Lunokhod to an airless Moon, but a Thor IRBM derived Delta II to place a small Mars package.

      Curiosity and the Skycrane were also pretty heavy.

      I can’t help but wonder if the Dragon might be lighter. With the Curiosity mission, you had no rocket-braking–you slammed full force into the atmosphere and the crane had just enough thrust to not hit the lander. That’s payload-centric thinking.

      The super-dracos are pretty stout–but I wonder if the capsule will be atop some large service module/upper stage combo that may fire its own retrorocket–like the lunar crasher stage–and once that is exhausted, the much lighter capsule comes down with less violence–having dumped a lot of speed and liquid bulk.

      That’s rocket-centric landing

      So the actual lander might actually be lighter–if more fuel is used in braking–and not just backshell thickness.

      Scott and others could tell you more than I could.

  • Spike

    I’m sure someone has done the numbers, but what sort of vehicle (# of stages, amount of propellant, ect) is needed to leave mars,rendezvous with a orbiting craft, and return to earth?

  • xvdougl

    Looks like EM just landed a nice little GPS lift contract too.

  • xvdougl

    So in theory there would be enough room for Hillary and Trump on this one way ticket?