There had been various rumours and speculations regarding the fact that SpaceX wants to adjust its plans for dispatching the robotic landers to Mars. While confirming those rumours and speculations, the officials from NASA have reportedly said that the commercial space company SpaceX has already informed NASA that it has postponed the featured Red Dragon program on the shelf.
The government had given its confirmation for providing the navigation and the communication services needed for the Red Dragon mission under the specific terms of Space Act Agreement between SpaceX and NASA. The mission was originally planned for delivering an unpiloted lander by 2018 on the surface of Mars.
However, with recent development and confirmed news, SpaceX gave the official notice that the launch of the experimental lander on the Falcon Heavy rocket cannot don’t by 2018 and had to be shifted to 2020. The founder of SpaceX, Elon Musk, however, claims that his company is working on redesigning the next generation Dragon capsule.
THE CONCEPT OF RED DRAGON
The Dragon capsule is a craft which is specifically made for the astronauts to be carried to the International Space Station without the need of a helicopter type landing. Instead of that, the returning space crews will be thrown in the ocean with their parachutes on.
The concept of Crew Dragon was made in accordance with the use of side-mounted jet packs for slowing down in the atmosphere of Mars and then braces itself for the touchdown assisted by a rocket. But that capability was removed from the Crew Dragon without citing the reasons for it.
Elon Musk and the spokesperson from SpaceX evaded the questions regarding the future of Red Dragon. However, the head of NASA’s planetary science division, Jim Green, confirmed the rumours and agreed that the Red Dragon project has been pushed back on the shelf.
The agency had agreed to spend $32 million for supporting the project of Red Dragon which would have taken four years. That only covered the total ten percent of the total cost of the first Red Dragon mission as per the agreement last year. Red Dragons were envisioned for delivering cargo and experiments to the surface of the Mars to test the supersonic retro-propulsion in the atmosphere of the planet for the very first time.
NASA now knows that it would be unable to obtain till the late 2020s with a government managed mission. However, Musk tweeted that the project hasn’t been abandoned. He claimed that SpaceX has been working to refine the way company could send the people to the Mars.