When SpaceX starts sending vehicles to Mars, how will they handle landing on Mars?

Will the Starship (Upper Stage, transit vehicle) slow down enough to capture into orbit of Mars before entering the atmosphere?

Or will they do a direct entry, using the atmosphere to slow down instead of using propulsive capture into orbit?


1 Answer 1


Capturing into Mars orbit would consume a fair amount of fuel.

You can see this with Mars probes. They usually do one of three things.

  1. Propulsive capture into orbit
  2. Minimal propulsive capture, but aero breaking for the rest.
  3. Direct descent, no real breaking into orbit.

Every pound of fuel carried to Mars means lifting it from Earth, so minimizing fuel use is important.

SpaceX has discussed how they will enter the atmosphere and use it to kill speed/energy.

At the moment it is not known if they will do ANY kind of propulsive movement before entering the atmosphere, but the main plan appears to be direct descent and using the atmosphere to break before a propulsive landing at the very end.


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