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NASA is working with private spaceflight firm Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) to plan a mission that would search for evidence of life buried in the Martian dirt. The NASA science hardware would fly to the Red Planet aboard SpaceX's Dragon capsule, which the company is developing to ferry cargo and astronauts to and from the International Space Station. This so-called "Red Dragon" mission, which could be ready to launch by 2018, would carry a cost of about $400 million or less, researchers said.
SpaceX is developing the Dragon capsule under a NASA contract to resupply the International Space Station. The company also hopes NASA will use a human-rated version of Dragon to ferry astronauts to and from the orbiting lab, perhaps by 2015 or so. SpaceX is developing a heavy-lift rocket, called the Falcon Heavy, which could carry Dragon to Mars. The Falcon Heavy may launch for the first time by late 2012 or early 2013, Musk has said.
Falcon Heavy would lift from 100,000 to 120,000 pounds to orbit, about three times the performance of the Falcon 9. It is comprised of three nine- engine Falcon 9 first stage booster cores and would utilize upgraded Merlin 1D engines currently being tested at the SpaceX rocket development facility in McGregor, Texas. The Falcon booster cores would be the first to have cross feed propellant capability enabling significant enhancements in payload performance, Musk explained. “We expect to launch a lot, maybe 20 launches per year,” said Musk. He thinks that the launches would be spilt about equally between the current Falcon 9 and the new Falcon Heavy allowing SpaceX to compete in the full gamut of opportunities for commercial rocket providers. The Falcon Heavy could even be used for interplanetary science missions to Mars and elsewhere in the Solar System.
Originally posted by Chrisfishenstein
reply to post by iforget
Well, it looks as if they must have found something in their pictures they have been taking......But we don't get to see why they are going to Mars???? COME ON just show us.....We really want to see what the big deal is....
Originally posted by SeattlesFinest
they already have the new magnetic based shuttle that will be taking test flights in 2014 i believe
Dragon is a free-flying, reusable spacecraft being developed by SpaceX under NASA's Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) program. Initiated internally by SpaceX in 2005, the Dragon spacecraft is made up of a pressurized capsule and unpressurized trunk used for Earth to LEO transport of pressurized cargo, unpressurized cargo, and/or crew members. The Dragon spacecraft is comprised of 3 main elements: the Nosecone, which protects the vessel and the docking adaptor during ascent; the Spacecraft, which houses the crew and/or pressurized cargo as well as the service section containing avionics, the RCS system, parachutes, and other support infrastructure; and the Trunk, which provides for the stowage of unpressurized cargo and will support Dragon’s solar arrays and thermal radiators.