Updated 2:12 PM EST, Wed, Jan 29, 2020

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SpaceX to Reveal More Plans for Mars Mission in September

Mars, here we come.

(Photo : SpaceX) SpaceX's Red Dragon spacecraft landing on Mars (artist's concept). Test firing of the SuperDraco thrusters

SpaceX plans to release in September more details about its mission to land an uncrewed Red Dragon spacecraft on Mars in 2018. SpaceX founder Elon Musk will make the announcement at the 67th International Astronautical Congress in Guadalajara, Mexico

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Prior to this, the space transport firm last April 27confirmed plans to land a modified version of its Dragon 2 spacecraft (called Red Dragon) on the Red Planet. Probable landing sites for Red Dragon will be polar or mid-latitude locations with proven near-surface ice.

The September announcement is set to reveal more details about SpaceX's broader plans for the human colonization Mars that will begin with the precursor flights of its Dragon 2 spacecraft in 2018.

The long-term goal of SpaceX is to provide spacecraft for the future human colonization of Mars. The Red Dragon mission will be SpaceX's first launch to another planet.

Red Dragon is a spacecraft for crewed and uncrewed but low-cost Mars landing missions. It will be lifted into orbit by the SpaceX Falcon Heavy rockets currently under development.

The next few Mars missions by SpaceX will be pathfinders that will test equipment and techniques to successfully pierce the Martian atmosphere with equipment needed by human colonists. Dragon spacecraft will not use parachutes to land safely on Mars.

Instead, the spacecraft will rely on eight SuperDraco thrusters to slow down its descent as they enter the Martian atmosphere. The SuperDraco controllable thrusters will also be used to land the spacecraft and hover it much like a helicopter.

The September announcement might also reveal if plans to land a sample return Mars rover by a Dragon 2 will push through. SpaceX plans to test crewed Dragon 2 spacecraft with SuperDraco thrusters on Earth in 2017.

Musk said the Mars landing will showcase Red Dragon's ability to reach distant destinations throughout the solar system.

"Dragon 2 is designed to be able to land anywhere in the solar system," tweeted Musk on April 27. "Red Dragon Mars mission is the first test flight."

By landing successfully on Mars, Red Dragon will become the first commercial spacecraft to land on the Red Planet.  Weighing 14,000 lb (1 tonne), Red Dragon will also be the heaviest spacecraft to land on Mars. 

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