Saturday, April 30, 2011

Dragon to Mars?

According to Ken Bowersox, Elon Musk has long wanted Mars. Musk supposedly started SpaceX after inquiring about launch prices and finding they were too high. This video advertises how the Dragon spacecraft only requires a launch escape system to be human-rated. The innovative LES dispenses with the escape tower seen from Mercury to Apollo in favour of side-mounted rockets. Since these don't have to be jettisoned, there are abort options all the way to orbit.

If the LES engines are not used for escape, they can be used for landing! The last part of the video shows Dragon landing on a planet that can only be Mars. A habitat and some sort of return vehicle appear to be prepositioned at the landing site. Dragon would be cramped quarters for an 8-month journey. Possibly it would make the voyage attached to some sort of habitat module. The hab would have to be well-stoked with supplies and shielded from the radiation of deep space. Dragon is designed with a heat shield tough enough to survive a return from the Moon. This video is a fascinating glimpse into SpaceX future plans.

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