NASA Considering SpaceX "Red Dragon" for Returning Mars Samples to Earth
March 10, 2014 2:43 PM
comment(s) - last by
This could happen as soon as 2022
NASA wants to analyze some terrain samples from Mars in an effort to answer whether life exists there, but the problem has been transporting such samples from the Red Planet back to Earth.
But now, it looks as though NASA has found a potential solution: customize a
SpaceX Dragon capsule
While this is just a proposal for now and is by no means a planned mission with set funding yet, NASA said that modifying a SpaceX Dragon capsule into a landing craft could be a cost-effective way of bringing Martian samples back to Earth as soon as 2022.
An internal study at NASA's Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California revealed that the modified Dragon capsule -- dubbed "Red Dragon" -- would make a direct entry into the atmosphere of Mars and descend to the surface using retro propulsion for a precision touchdown (thanks to SuperDraco rocket engines) instead of a parachute system.
The study suggests a Red Dragon could land roughly 2 metric tons of useful payload on Mars. A Red Dragon has "several times" the volume of the Viking heritage entry vehicle from the 1970s, and would be equipped to carry a Mars Ascent Vehicle (MAV), an Earth Return Vehicle (ERV), and hardware to transfer samples collected.
From there, the Red Dragon return vehicle would exit the Martian surface, thanks to some help from the MAV, and make its way toward Earth.
A big plus for Red Dragon is that the mission would not require the transfer of samples from one vehicle to another in Mars orbit.
"The significance of the work is that it opens the door to the efficient achievement of an important planetary science objective at a lower complexity level and, by extension, at potentially lower cost than previously considered," said Andrew Gonzales, leader of the NASA study.
This certainly isn't NASA and SpaceX's first project together. SpaceX -- which is headed by Tesla CEO Elon Musk -- flew its Dragon capsule and Falcon 9 rocket to the ISS
for the first time
back in May 2012 for a test supply run. After that successful trip, SpaceX and NASA signed a $1.6 billion contract that allows SpaceX to complete 12 supply trips to the ISS and back.
In October 2012, the Dragon capsule completed its
first official cargo run
to the ISS, bringing home 1,673 pounds of cargo.
This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled
RE: So this is what budget cuts get us?
3/10/2014 4:54:46 PM
I normally wouldn't, either, being a fiscal conservative myself--but for some strange reason, these days at least, it seems spending will never be reigned under control. So it is more a matter of arguing who gets what (like children that found a bunch of toys that fell off a truck and are fighting over them) than who does the right thing. Because that is basically what our Government is doing to us--stealing from our future.
I'd rather see that stolen money go towards something meaningful like NASA than something stupid like another study on blue wharbler mating habits with Puget Sound sharp-finned trout. Because, you know, in some strange world a hippie will find a way to believe a bird might mate with a fish. We'll never know until we blow untold millions of dollars on it!
At least NASA inspires minds. A bird mating with a fish? Well, we already have enough of that inspiration in the .xxxesque domains.
I was pretty disgusted by that clown president of ours leading into Cosmos last night. Ah well, another discussion for another day. :) (but had to throw it in there as it is relevant to space)
"If a man really wants to make a million dollars, the best way would be to start his own religion." -- Scientology founder L. Ron. Hubbard
SpaceX's Dragon Completes First Official Cargo Run to the ISS
October 29, 2012, 10:35 AM
SpaceX's Dragon Reaches Pacific Ocean, Ends Successful ISS Journey
May 31, 2012, 7:33 PM
Nail Polish May Soon be Able to Detect Date Rape Drugs
August 26, 2014, 7:57 AM
SpaceX Falcon 9-R Rocket Suffers Malfunction, Self-Destructs During Test Flight
August 23, 2014, 9:36 AM
Texas Chosen as Site for SpaceX's First Commercial Launchpad
August 5, 2014, 1:44 PM
South Carolina Prison Finds Crashed Drone Carrying Drugs, Phones
August 1, 2014, 2:49 PM
NASA's Mars 2020 Rover Gains Seven New Instruments for Exploration
August 1, 2014, 1:30 PM
NASA Opportunity Rover Breaks Record for Most Miles Traveled on Another Planet
July 29, 2014, 1:38 PM
Most Popular Articles
HTC Preps Nexus 9 With Nvidia K1 64-Bit "Denver" SoC, Android L Onboard
September 10, 2014, 10:21 PM
Apple iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus Reviews Roll In
September 16, 2014, 9:13 PM
Dell Announces "World's Thinnest" Tablet: The Venue 8 7000 Series
September 11, 2014, 8:51 AM
Samsung Calls Out “Copycat” Apple for 5.5” iPhone 6 Plus in New Ads
September 14, 2014, 11:06 PM
Confirmed: Next Generation of Windows to Be Announced on September 30
September 15, 2014, 4:43 PM
Latest Blog Posts
ISIS Imposes Ban on Teaching Evolution in Iraq
Sep 17, 2014, 5:22 PM
Space Terrorism is a Looming Threat For the United States
Apr 23, 2014, 7:47 PM
Facebook Aims to Provide Internet to "Every Person in the World" with Drones, Satellites
Apr 1, 2014, 10:20 AM
Retail Mobile Sites Experience Outages in Light of Simplexity's Bankruptcy
Mar 14, 2014, 8:48 AM
Tesla vs. BMW: Who Has the Safer EV?
Feb 1, 2014, 2:56 PM
More Blog Posts
Copyright 2014 DailyTech LLC. -
Terms, Conditions & Privacy Information