SpaceX Lays Out Plans, Goals for Mars Missions Written 27 May 2020


Artist's concept of the SpaceX Red Dragon | SpaceX Photos; Wikipedia; CC0

SPACE reports that SpaceX, with the goal of landing humans on Mars, is “testing early versions of the spacecraft it envisions using on such journeys, evaluating potential landing sites and thinking through what a long-term base on the Red Planet might look like many years from now.” SpaceX Principal Mars Development Engineer Paul Wooster said in a May 20 meeting of the Committee on Space Research (COSPAR), “In terms of the vision that we’re moving toward, it’s really to enable cities on Mars and everything that comes with having a city, having a large and growing population. ... This obviously is a very significant endeavor, something that will take many years, many decades even, to really achieve.” The “vehicle that the company envisions as the workhorse for such a city is the Starship, powered by the Super Heavy booster. The pair is still in development, with SpaceX conducting early tests on a string of Starship prototypes at its site in Texas. No full-size prototype has left the ground yet.” SpaceX “is targeting a characteristically ambitious timeline of perhaps 2022 for the first uncrewed missions to Mars, Wooster said.” Whatever the “timeline of SpaceX’s Mars program, here’s what the company is envisioning: The Mars journeys would rely on fuel depots stationed in Earth orbit. A Super Heavy booster would launch an individual Mars-bound Starship to Earth orbit, where it would rendezvous with a previously launched Starship full of fuel, which would then pass along that propellant.” Next, the Starship “would head to Mars, belly flopping through the atmosphere protected by heat-resistant shielding until it ultimately lands upright.”
Full Story (SPACE)