SpaceX says it will fly a spacecraft to Mars as soon as 2018
Elon Musk’s SpaceX plans to land an unmanned spacecraft on Mars as soon as 2018 with the help of NASA, an extraordinary collaboration between the public and private sectors in an effort to eventually get humans to the Red Planet.
SpaceX made the announcement on Twitter Wednesday, laying out an ambitious timeline for an incredibly difficult mission that only governments have dared try. Landing a spacecraft or a robot that can then operate successfully on the Martian surface is so difficult that the U.S. is the only country to have done it, and many attempts over the years have failed.
The partnership between SpaceX and NASA, which has the goal of sending humans to Mars in the 2030s, is yet another example of the significant shift in the role NASA is playing in space exploration. While it continues to pursue its own deep space missions, the agency has also spent years, and billions of dollars, helping to support a robust commercial space industry, which it is increasingly partnering with to develop the technologies to explore the cosmos.
In a statement, NASA said it is providing “technical support” for SpaceX’s mission, without financial support. In exchange, SpaceX would provide “valuable entry, descent and landing data to NASA for our journey to Mars, while providing support to American industry.”
Musk, the billionaire entrepreneur who also runs the electric car maker Tesla, founded SpaceX more than 10 years ago with the goal of colonizing Mars.
Getting to Mars, however, is exceedingly difficult. On average, it’s 140 million miles from Earth, though the planets come to within about 35 million miles every 26 months. But even under the best circumstances it takes months to get there. And the terrain of deep space is tremendously harsh. Skeptics think that despite its grand aspirations, NASA is nowhere close to getting humans there. And of the 43 robotic missions to Mars, including flybys, attempted by four different countries, only 18 have been total successes.
Musk’s announcement Wednesday, then, “is a pretty bold statement from a guy known for bold statements,” said Lori Garver, the former deputy NASA administrator.
The collaboration “is more similar to what you might have with a government-to-government agreement,” she said. “So it is breaking new ground, and I think it’s a good sign that NASA is even a partner. It shows there are people at NASA who are as excited about this as a lot of us are.”
Once a spunky startup, SpaceX, based in Hawthorne, Calif., has become a major force in the burgeoning space industry, with more than 4,000 employees, a backlog of orders to launch commercial satellites and multi-billion dollar contracts with NASA to fly cargo and eventually astronauts to the International Space Station on its Falcon 9 rocket.
“While it continues to pursue its own deep space missions, the agency has also spent years, and billions of dollars, helping to support a robust commercial space industry, which it is increasingly partnering with to develop the technologies to explore the cosmos.”
“SpaceX plans to land an unmanned spacecraft on Mars as soon as 2018”
i have $20 that says they wont get there in 2018..