After breaking news about close plans for unmanned Mars mission of Red Dragon in 2018, Elon Musk unveils more details.
According to "Washington Post" CEO of SpaceX, Elon Musk, unveiled more details about his future plans of Mars exploration with unmanned missions of Martian spacecraft Red Dragon.
Elon Musk after announcing on Facebook on April 2016 that SpaceX is planning launching Red Dragon with unmanned Mars mission already in 2018 along with Companies plans for extending range of cooperation with NASA in further Mars exploration, it was sure that Mars will become constant point in space flights schedule. Now we know that it will be sooner than everyone could predict. After first Mars landing planned for 2019, first manned mission is planned by SpaceX for 2024 with potential landing in 2025. It is not the end - manned mission will be preceded by two unmanned missions to gain experience with possible cargo flights in 2020. Elon Musk claimed in the interview given to "Washington Post":
“Essentially what we’re saying is we’re establishing a cargo route to Mars... It’s a regular cargo route. You can count on it. It’s going to happen every 26 months. Like a train leaving the station. And if scientists around the world know that they can count on that, and it’s going to be inexpensive, relatively speaking compared to anything in the past, then they will plan accordingly and come up with a lot of great experiments.”
It seems that Elon Musk did not resign from plans for establishing Mars colony, even if NASA is changing priorities. After enthusiastic comments from April 2016 (NASA still aims for 2030 with own Mars mission) but experience and data gathered by Red Dragon would be extremely useful for NASA. SpaceX still main objective is establishing colony on Mars, when NASA is far more cautions in declaring such ambitious goals and focusing on later date for landing on Mars considering also as important Moon missions. For SpaceX ultimate goal is Mars exploration and colonization, but to do it is necessary to develop reliable technology to perform resupply missions. Red Dragon should be considered mainly as cargo spacecraft; for 2022 company would like to launch Mars Colonial Transporter, spacecraft which main objective is bringing colonists to Mars in future. SpaceX will also develop technology which would make long term habitation on Mars possible. Elon Musk claims that:
“It’s about having an architecture that would enable the creation of a self-sustaining city on Mars with the objective of being a multi-planet species and a true space-faring civilization and one day being out there among the stars.”
It is worth to remind that conception of the Mars Colonial Transporter (MCT) assumes that spacecraft will be able to bring to Mars 100 men. It will be launched on atop of new heavy rocket (with core diameter around 15 m) powered with Raptor methane fueled engines with thrust around 19 mN. Details on MCT and Mars missions will be unveiled on September 2016 on special SpaceX conference.