Elon Musk Abandons His Red Dragon Plan for SpaceX Mars Mission

SpaceX is ditching its plan to land on Mars using thrusters.

July 20, 2017 9:21 am
Concept art of sending Dragon to Mars. (SpaceX)

SpaceX is scrapping its old plan for Mars.

Elon Musk said Tuesday that his private company will not use the previously announced Red Dragon plan to land two spacecraft on Mars around 2020.

Originally, SpaceX wanted to do a propulsive landing, which involves a controlled descent using thrusters, instead of floating down with parachutes. Musk said at the International Space Station Research and Development Conference that ensuring the safety of the Red Dragon plan for its crew proved too difficult, TechCrunch reports.

Concept art of Musk’s original Red Dragon plan, using thrusters to land on Mars. (SpaceX)
Test of the thrusters in the now-abandoned Red Dragon plan. (SpaceX)

“There was a time when I thought the Dragon approach to landing on Mars, where you’ve got a base heat shield and side mounted thrusters, would be the right way to land on Mars,” Musk explained Wednesday. “But now I’m pretty confident that is not the right way.”

Although the SpaceX CEO said more details about the Mars mission could be expected in September, Musk did share a few updates on the changes his company made. The new spacecraft will be more pared down and designed to be used in Earth’s orbit. Musk expects clients to hire SpaceX for these activities and the profits from those contracts would be used to fund the Mars mission.

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