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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. 


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RE: So this is what budget cuts get us?
By pandemonium on 3/11/2014 6:29:43 AM , Rating: 4
Well, see, that's the thing, there is nothing our Government can do to fix the economy by spending. Not a thing. The other day our stupid President proposed increasing foreign taxes for certain Corporations. He doesn't have a clue.

You mean the one where it'll make it more difficult for those corporations - that you mention in the next paragraph - to spend in other countries and escape a lot of the U.S.'s taxation otherwise? How do you think all of those corporations are sitting on all of that money in the first place? Yeah, that's stupid. Fix what's broken in our economy. Incredibly dumb. What are they thinking? The only problem with this proposal is financial service companies are exempt from this increased taxation and that'll be a giant loophole; like everything else.

Also, I'd love to hear your dissemination of why our government can't fix the economy by spending. People like to say that it won't, but they can never answer why not. They're just against spending, so that means also removing anything that can be positive in result of building more revenue. That's a sluggish economy retainer. As we've seen in the past, time and time again, you have to spend money to make money.

If corporations start spending, everyone wins because they will have money in their pockets they can spend which will get the economy moving again.

There's nothing stopping corporations from spending now . What makes you think this'll magically change from being forced by the government? If anything, mandated spending for corporations to communal expenses will only make things worse.

Our GDP is low because we outsource everything, because, surprise, surprise, it's cheaper to. So the rich get richer...

By MrBlastman on 3/11/2014 11:32:02 AM , Rating: 2
Also, I'd love to hear your dissemination of why our government can't fix the economy by spending.

You have to delve deep into economic theory, man. The gist of it all is spending with a net-negative cash flow prints money on debt which over time (not at the moment) threatens to grossly devalue our currency to a point where it is no longer useful abroad. In a global economy, the strength of our currency is important.

The problem with our economy isn't the lack of money out there, it is the resistance to flow of that money. It doesn't want to change hands. Much like a human being, to live your blood must flow. If it doesn't flow, it clots.

The money needs to start flowing. Throwing more money at a situation like this (off of debt) just adds more clotting and does little to help the flow.

If anything, mandated spending for corporations to communal expenses will only make things worse.

I don't suggest we mandate spending at all. What I do think would help is to incentivize spending. Put a spark in the motor and help it turn over. Don't force it to turn over, just help it do so on its own free volition.

RE: So this is what budget cuts get us?
By Just Tom on 3/11/2014 3:37:27 PM , Rating: 2
The problem is in order to spend money government needs to take it from someone else. This can be done either through direct taxes or inflating the money supply. Sometimes government spends money in productive ways - maintaining order, building highways, protecting trade routes - and there is indeed a net economic effect. However, I believe, and you are free to disagree, that for the most part we are way beyond effective and productive government spending. The money taken by the government would be more effectively spent by individuals rather than the government.

RE: So this is what budget cuts get us?
By pandemonium on 3/12/2014 5:41:29 AM , Rating: 2
What you're suggesting is a revolution and I don't think anyone would agree to the anarchy that would follow that transition. Actually, if that were to happen I'd be moving out of this country pretty quickly.

We have to take steps in the right direction somewhere, or else we're just backpedaling - even if those steps seem insignificant.

By Just Tom on 3/12/2014 3:19:45 PM , Rating: 2
Anarchy? Revolution? It is the government spending less money. Do you really think if, just to pick a number, the government cut 10% across the board there would be anarchy and revolution? If so how come there was no such anarchy just a few scant years ago when we were spending much less.

The simple fact is government spending is going to be cut. The question is when and by how much. The sooner the cutting starts the smaller the cuts need to be.

"When an individual makes a copy of a song for himself, I suppose we can say he stole a song." -- Sony BMG attorney Jennifer Pariser

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