We know that SpaceX is very interested in going to Mars, and today we’re finding out that it wants to get this done quickly. The company has just announced its plans to send a spacecraft to the Red Planet by 2018. Given the amount of time required for conducting research and developing machines that can handle a trip to Mars, two years seems like a very ambitious timeline, but SpaceX has obviously been working on this for quite some time now and it’s only announcing this timeline because it believes it actually has a shot of making it.

The company didn’t confirm today how many spacecraft it’s going to send to the neighboring planet, only hinting that it might conduct a series of these missions with its Dragon capsule while promising to reveal more information about all of this very soon.

SpaceX has also revealed that these capsules are going to travel on its Falcon Heavy rocket which is a bigger and more powerful version of the Falcon 9 rocket. The capsules will be launched on the rocket to test various methods of landing heavy payloads on Mars.

If SpaceX is able to pull this off it’s going to be the first private space company to land a payload on another planet. It will be sending up the Red Dragon, a modified version of the spacecraft it uses to shuttle cargo to the International Space Station, the spacecraft has eight SuperDraco engines which will enable the capsule to land on the planet using propulsive landing technology.

Sending heavy payloads to Mars is the first step in landing actual humans on the Red Planet. They will need a lot of equipment if they’re to survive in the harsh Martian conditions and they can’t take all of that gear with them on a single journey. If SpaceX is able to pull this off humans will be one step closer to their goal of stepping foot on Mars.

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