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?
3/11/2014 8:54:11 PM
They won't be able to at all given the amount of potential inflation out there. I'm preparing for sky-high interest rates. I can't wait to buy 30-year bonds at 10 - 15% again.
If it happens, that is. I think there is a decent case for it.
"The Space Elevator will be built about 50 years after everyone stops laughing" -- Sir Arthur C. Clarke
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
Newly Discovered Costa Rican Glass Frog is Kermit's Doppelgänger
April 22, 2015, 11:26 AM
Researchers Hope to Find "Exotic" Lifeforms Inside Crater of Dinosaur Killing Meteor
April 14, 2015, 8:47 PM
Mathematician's Sociological Formulation May Explain the "Hipster Paradox"
April 14, 2015, 1:13 PM
Cool Science Video: This is What a McDonald's Burger Looks Like in Your Stomach
April 7, 2015, 1:43 PM
Fraud Artist Engineered Stunning UK Jailbreak Via Typosquatting, Email
April 4, 2015, 2:57 PM
Food Chemists at Italy's Barilla Claim to Have Perfect Instant Noodles w/out Frying
March 26, 2015, 4:25 PM
Most Popular Articles
Windows 10 Build 10061: A Quick Review
April 27, 2015, 10:57 AM
Ding Dong the Deal is Dead: What's Next After Failed Comcast/TWC Merger
April 28, 2015, 2:06 PM
Report: Apple Pulls the Plug on Apple Watch Store Launch
April 16, 2015, 3:18 PM
Leather-Bound LG G4 Shuffles Out, "Specially Designed" Snapdragon 808 SoC
April 28, 2015, 4:00 PM
Microsoft "Welcomes Developers" to Its New "Edge Browser" (Codename: Spartan)
April 29, 2015, 7:25 PM
Latest Blog Posts
Sceptre Airs 27", 120 Hz. 1080p Monitor/HDTV w/ 5 ms Response Time for $220
Dec 3, 2014, 10:32 PM
Costco Gives Employees Thanksgiving Off; Wal-Mart Leads "Black Thursday" Charge
Oct 29, 2014, 9:57 PM
"Bear Selfies" Fad Could Turn Deadly, Warn Nevada Wildlife Officials
Oct 28, 2014, 12:00 PM
The Surface Mini That Was Never Released Gets "Hands On" Treatment
Sep 26, 2014, 8:22 AM
ISIS Imposes Ban on Teaching Evolution in Iraq
Sep 17, 2014, 5:22 PM
More Blog Posts
Copyright 2015 DailyTech LLC. -
Terms, Conditions & Privacy Information