Published 02-05-2016

REACHING MARS IN 2020 ISN’T FAST ENOUGH FOR SPACEX

01-05-2016

Not content with the pace of progress, startup SpaceX has revised their predictions for an unmanned Mars landing, aiming to land their Dragon craft as soon as 2018.

Despite being vague on details, the company has hinted at upcoming tests of the Red Dragon craft, a modified version of the Dragon spacecraft that it currently uses to shuttle goods and material to and from the International Space Station.

The Red Dragon has a large problem to overcome, however. It’s not getting to Mars that’s the problem: it’s landing safely.

Unlike Earth’s, Mars’s atmosphere is very thin (about 1/100th the density), meaning slowing and landing any sort of craft (via gliding or ablative cushioning) becomes much harder.

Several solutions have come up, but the solution Red Dragon currently sports is propulsive landing, or using rockets to slow its descent in a controlled manner. This does increase the fuel load of the ship, but is much more feasible than the inflatable lander that has previously been tested.

In the long-term, SpaceX’s goal is to colonise Mars, but it’s producing plenty of fascinating engineering challenges (and answers) in the meantime. 

RELATED NEWS

  1. Automation has come a long way in the last fifty years.
    In 1972 relay logic control technology ruled Australian industry. Control cabinets were packed with hardwired relays, timers, contactors, and overloads. 
    Electricians knew all about racing contacts, leakage voltages and welded contacts....
  2. Bilby3D have offered industry-leading tech support to diverse businesses from solo professionals up to Defence and Aerospace for over a decade. We consult for companies to find the materials and machinery that will best meet their needs. We action real and cost effective manufacturing workflows. ...
  3. The quality of a bottle of wine is determined by both the quality control of the grape and the method used during the winemaking process. 
    The quality of the grape is mostly determined by natural and geological factors, such as weather conditions and location. Because that’s hard for humans to...