Elon Musk founder of CEO and CTO of SpaceX on Thursday suggested that SpaceX will abandon its plan that they have been aiming to land company’s Dragon capsule on Mars as early as 2020.
Dragon capsule also known as the Red Dragon mission was meant to lower itself to solid ground using engines embedded in its hull, and then touch down gently on landing legs in a method known as propulsive landing. But Musk said the company will come up with another way to land vehicles on the Martian surface.
“It was a tough decision,” he said when asked about propulsive landing capability during a question-and-answer session. “Technically it still is, although you’d have to land it on some pretty soft landing pad because we’ve deleted the little legs that pop out of the heat shield.”
“It would have taken a tremendous amount of effort to qualify that for safety, particularly for crew transport,” he said.
He also said that SpaceX’s Dragon capsules will stick to landing with parachutes on Earth. This is the current method SpaceX uses to land its cargo Dragon capsule to deliver supplies to and from the International Space Station.
“There was a time when I thought that the Dragon approach to landing on Mars... would be the right way to land on Mars,” Musk said at the ISS R&D Conference in Washington, DC today. “But now I'm pretty confident that is not the right way. There's a far better approach. That's what the next generation of SpaceX rockets and spacecraft is going to do.” Musk did not explain what that approach would be, though, or which vehicles the company would try to land on Mars in the future.
Downsizing the ITS spaceship a bit — the originally unveiled version would carry at least 100 people — and using it for some profit-generating
"Earth-orbit activity" could help make Mars colonization economically feasible, Musk said at the ISSR&D conference .
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) July 19, 2017
"To really get the public real fired up, I think we've got to have a base on the moon," the billionaire founder and CEO of SpaceX said today (July 19) at the 2017 International Space Station Research and Development (ISSR&D) conference in Washington, D.C.
"That's one of the key elements in the new architecture," Musk said. "It's similar to what was [unveiled] at IAC, but it's a little bit smaller — still big. I think this one's got a shot at being real on the economic front. You know, that's the trick."
"Having some permanent presence on another heavenly body, which would be the kind of moon base, and then getting people to Mars and beyond — that's the continuance of the dream of Apollo that I think people are really looking for," Musk told NASA ISS program manager Kirk Shireman, who interviewed him onstage at the conference.
"You can build a tremendous amount underground with the right boring technology on Mars, so I do think there's some overlap in that technology-development arena," Musk said.
But Earth-optimized tunneling machines won't do the job on Mars, he stressed.
"The Earth ones are really heavy. Like, really heavy," Musk said. "You're not worried about weight for an Earth tunneling machine; actually, you want one that's nice and heavy. But a Mars one, you'd have to redesign it to be superlight — that's a tricky one — and then just take into account the different conditions on Mars and everything else."
On the saftey concern he said that “it would have taken a tremendous amount of effort to qualify that for safety” with NASA.