On Wednesday, SpaceX announced via its social media presence that the company is sending its first mission to the red planet as soon as 2018. They intend to land an unmanned Dragon spacecraft on the surface of Mars as a demonstration and to “inform [our] overall Mars architecture.”
Ni hao, fellow Browncoats! Jeff here, rocket-scientist-in-residence here at Take Back the Sky
. A few days ago, Elon Musk participated in an AMA interview
on the popular website Reddit prior to the most recent launch attempt of CRS-5. For those of you unfamiliar with the online forum, “AMA” stands for “ask me anything.” It’s like Meet the Press, if it were before an audience of half-starved reavers. The key takeaway, though, was his letting slip that his company intends to announce the full details of just how they intend to beat NASA to colonizing Mars later this year.
Musk has been teasing the Martian Colonial Transport, or MCT, for several years now, but up ’til now has been vague about the details. Is it a rocket? A third incarnation of the Dragon spacecraft, ruggedized for the trip to the Red Planet? Finally, the tech mogul stated online that “The Mars transport system will be a completely new architecture” (Emphasis mine).