NASA mulls ‘Red Dragon’ sample return mission to Mars with SpaceX

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NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity has found evidence that ancient Mars hosted a wet, habitable environment.

The first photos and video of Crew Dragon’s interior, published Thursday, show a modern space with four windows, seats made of “highest-grade” carbon fiber and Alcantara cloth, plenty of displays to provide the crew with real-time info on the spacecraft’s situation, spacecraft’s escape system, environmental controls, and its ability to be controlled by the crew, by SpaceX teams on the ground, or even autonomously. After all, the manned Dragon is essentially the same vessel that’s already in operation as an automated cargo transport.

Elon Musk himself already shared concept images of Dragon 2 and its journey to Mars.

The infographic, which cleverly evokes Leonardo da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man, goes through all the basics, such as Kelly experiencing the amount of radiation that we would experience after flying from Los Angeles to New York 5250 times, and that he will drink 730 liters of recycled urine and sweat.

Landing on the surface of Mars becomes an increasingly tricky problem as you increase in mass. The atmosphere is too thin for parachutes to do all the work, and delicate components don’t take kindly to hard impacts.

Developed independently from SpaceX, the yet-to-be approved project could launch by 2022 to pick up samples collected by NASA’s 2020 Mars rover and send them to Earth. This project has not yet been selected for funding by NASA, but if funded could launch as early as 2022.

The MAV would then blast off from the centre of the capsule sending the ERV on its way back to Earth.

The unprecedented antenna signal strength achieved eliminates the need for multiple orbiting satellites that have to relay data back to Earth. This baby will deliver rock samples from Mars back to earth. Red Dragon would then collect samples from the rover using its robotic arm. There’s only so much a rover can do from millions of miles away, and if scientists come up with a new idea for a test, they have to wait for the next mission. But if it does, researchers could end up finding out if life ever existed on Mars within the next 10 years.

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