SpaceX CEO Elon Musk wants to send an unmanned mission to Mars by 2018.
The privately held space company announced today it plans to send one of its Dragon spacecraft on a test flight to the Red Planet, where it could yield valuable information about landing large payloads on the surface. The findings could help Musk one day fulfill his goal of colonising Mars.
NASA has estimated a trip to Mars could take eight months via rocket. Musk tweeted that although his Dragon 2 rocket is designed to land anywhere in the solar system, it would be a less-than-ideal vessel for the journey to Mars since it offers about as much space as an SUV.
Last year, SpaceX showed off an animation of its Falcon Heavy rocket, which is so powerful it can blast off carrying a payload as heavy as a commercial jetliner packed with hundreds of passengers, luggage and fuel.
While space aficionados will have to wait for more details on the Mars launch plans, the company is set for another rocket launch and landing attempt next month.
The company’s next satellite launch is scheduled for May 3, a company representative told ABC News today. While SpaceX will once again try to land its Falcon 9 booster at sea after sending the payload into orbit, the particular rocket used in this launch won’t be the one SpaceX landed on a ship during the historic April 8 mission.
That rocket is undergoing testing and once it’s certified for re-use, could fly again as early as June, according to Musk.