NASA’s new challenge? Grab a piece of Mars with SpaceX technology

NASA scientists have drawn up plans to bring samples from Mars using SpaceX’s Falcon heavy rocket and a modified version of its cargo capsule, according to Space.com.

The goal of the mission would be to capture samples from the Mars rover and analyze the material on Earth for signs of past life.

A NASA official said last week that the proposal, called “Red Dragon,” had not yet been approved. It was created independently from SpaceX by a NASA team.

SpaceX, led by Elon Musk, made history when its Dragon space capsule attached to the International Space Station in 2012 on a re-supply mission and returned safely to earth. It was the first private company to accomplish that feat.

Musk appeared last week on the Late Show with Stephen Colbert. He proposed two possible ways to make Mars habitable for humans — warm up the atmosphere with greenhouse gases or detonate thermonuclear weapons at the Martian poles.

“You’re a super-villain,” Colbert said, drawing laughter from Musk and the audience. “That’s what a super-villain does.”

NASA scientists believe a “Red Dragon” mission could launch in 2022.

 

Photo: SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft (Courtesy of SpaceX)

 

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