SpaceX may soon land on the surface of Mars and it is expected to happen in the next two years, Elon Musk announced.
Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX, plans to land an unmanned spacecraft on Mars as soon as 2018 with the assistance of NASA – a ground breaking partnership between both public and private sectors. The announcement on Twitter revealed an ambitious timeline for a daunting mission to land the spacecraft on the Red Planet.
Planning to send Dragon to Mars as soon as 2018. Red Dragons will inform overall Mars architecture, details to come pic.twitter.com/u4nbVUNCpA
— SpaceX (@SpaceX) April 27, 2016
Dubbed Red Dragon, the Dragon 2 spacecraft will be launched by the Falcon Heavy rocket.
The privately handled space company will send one of its Dragon spacecraft on a test flight to Mars, where it could gather valuable data and information on landing large payloads on the planet's surface without parachutes or aerodynamic decelerators.
"SpaceX is planning to send Dragons to Mars as early as 2018. Red Dragon missions will help inform the overall Mars architecture that will be unveiled later this year," the company said on its Facebook page. "These missions will help demonstrate the technologies needed to land large payloads propulsively on Mars."
The Red Dragon spacecraft measures about 20 feet tall and 12 feet wide. It will not carry astronauts during its mission but will land on Mars to shed light on its ability to reach remote destinations in the solar system.
In a separate Tweet, Musk also said the spacecraft is designed to land anywhere in the solar system and its mission on the Red Planet will serve as its first test flight.
Dragon 2 is designed to be able to land anywhere in the solar system. Red Dragon Mars mission is the first test flight. — Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 27, 2016
Musk added that the new Dragon won't be suitable for longer missions as its internal volume is only about the size of an SUV.
SpaceX tested Dragon 2's SuperDraco propulsive landing system at its McGregor, Texas facility which plays a pivotal role in the spacecraft's Mars landing in the future.
Musk is expected to reveal the detailed plans for the Mars Colonial Transporter (MCT) at the International Astronautical Conference in Guadalajara, Mexico this summer.