SpaceX to Mars by 2018

Here’s a bold plan to get a sample retrieval mission from Mars by 2018. The plan would be to use a Falcon Heavy and a modified Dragon capsule. The thinking is the Dragon’s draco thrusters could be used for a powered Mars landing. The Mars ascent would then be a two-stage ‘return rocket’ where the samples get picked up by another Dragon mission. The timing is crazily ambitious, but due to orbits is the best plan, otherwise the best back-up Earth/Mars positions would be 2022.

Here’s an outline of the mission stages. Many kerbals died to bring us this information…

Article with links on individual bits:

So, what do people think - a Tesla on Mars by two years - possible or impossible?


I think that ‘The Slow Blade Penetrates the Shield’ as in; you should not rush this stuff.

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It’s a nice overall higher-level goal to drive a few things forward.

They have immediate goals for Falcon Heavy, which getting that rated and reliable will be a huge step - that’s 53 tonnes into orbit and the biggest thing since Saturn V (other than Nasa’s Space Launch System SLS, which always seems further away).

The Dragon capsule is due to have to be man-rated anyway even if this mission profile doesn’t use people, and the capsule dual use of the ‘abort thrusters’ or ‘landing thrusters’ is clever I think. Not sure about turning it into a convertible to fire a return rocket from it though - that seems unique. :slight_smile:

If for nothing else they might just make an impressive new crater on Mars. Plus they can claim to have a Tesla charging station up there too. :race_car:

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Whoa. This suddenly connected some dots for me; I’ve had several friends in Aerospace Engineering at NC State the last few years who’ve been participating in competitions to design a sample retrieval and self-launching two-stage rocket system for a theoretical Mars mission; it was funded by a collaboration between NASA and “private industry.” Now we know who and why…


Cool. The Dragon could land about 2 tons on Mars and the return rocket would be about 16 feet high, as a two stage. Is that the sort of thing they were working on @Navynuke99? I guess it would be a solid fuel too?


Hang on, I think I still have the design doc my friend wrote saved to my Facebook profile (all 130+ pages)… I’ll see if I can find it.


I have a need for dis…

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@Navynuke99 I urgently want all the details to make a DCS Module! :smile:

Does it come with a new campaign map? Because I wanna fly the F-15 through the Valles Marineris :smiley:

Ok guys, here’s links to the proposal, PDR, and CDR part of the project that my good friend Chris was involved in. Lots more information as well in the rest of the site.


Elon Musk is as crazy as a mule on a ferris wheel. Gotta love that guy.

That being said: It might just work. In the end it depends mostly on money, of which Elon Musk happens to have a lot.

Can they do it? Yes, I think so. Although I would have expected them to try it on the moon or something like that first.

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I am just excited about being excited about space exploration again. Not just SpaceX, but others pushing the limits. I hope to see something major in my lifetime like man on Mars.


Oh yes. This a lot! :slight_smile: