SpaceX has long been planning to land its Dragon capsules on the Red Planet. The company said earlier this year that its previous objective of landing the capsule on Mars by 2018 was ambitious so it pushed the timeline to 2020. However, it seems that SpaceX won’t be doing that anymore. The company’s founder Elon Musk has said that the Red Dragon project has been completed and that the existing capsule won’t be used for propulsive landings on Mars.
This obviously doesn’t mean that SpaceX is giving up on its Mars ambitions. Certainly not. SpaceX has come up with a better plan of creating a more effective landing system for Mars. SpaceX had initially come up with the idea of using the Dragon capsule to land on the Red Planet by using thrusters instead of parachuting into the water.
It made sense on a planet like Mars where rocks are in abundance and seas are not. However, at the International Space Station Research and Development Conference, Musk has said that this system won’t be used because it would require too much effort to ensure that the capsule meets very strict safety standards.
Musk has also said that the new plans for a Mars landing system will be announced soon. At this point in time, it has only been revealed that the new system will be slightly smaller and more affordable.