SpaceX has announced that sending Red Dragon to Mars will gulp about $320 million even though it can only afford a tenth of that amount. SpaceX is working on sending Red Dragon, one of its Dragon capsules to Mars just two years from now.
Even though Red Dragon’s trip is being designed with a smaller scope, it costs much less than NASA’s missions to Mars which gulped several billions of dollars. Although, NASA is not willing to make monetary contributions to the project, it will assist with technical advice and supports.
The amount earmarked by SpaceX for the project, mentioned above will only cater for support staff’s salaries. This implies that SpaceX will have to find a way to raise the remaining $288 million which is about 90 percent of the estimated cost. But the company is yet to disclose how the project will be financed.
The major objective of Red Dragon’s trip is to check if heavy payloads can be landed on Mars since this has been almost impossible before now. This has been a difficult task because Mars has a very thin atmosphere which makes its pressure much less than that of the earth. In fact, its pressure is about one-hundredth of that of Planet Earth.
Despite being an impressive ambition and a great timeline, it is not certain that SpaceX will successfully execute the project by 2018 as planned. This is because the company still has major hurdles to cross before the trip can be a reality.
SpaceX has to launch Falcon Heavy, a rocket that will have enough thrust to push Red Dragon and other heavy payloads to Mars. What makes the timeline even more doubtful is the fact that the planned launch of Falcon Heavy has been postponed several times in the past.