SpaceX has the rockets to send some payload to Mars. The Falcon heavy can carry up to 16.8 tons to Mars according to this answer: Why can Falcon Heavy bring 4.2 times as much mass to Mars than F9, but only 2.7 times as much to LEO?. The most advance rover on Mars is currently the Perseverance rover. That only weighs 2624 kg according to this site: https://mars.nasa.gov/mars2020/spacecraft/rover/. The Falcon heavy can carry 8x the weight to Mars. Why hasn’t SpaceX sent anything to Mars yet?

  • $\begingroup$ I do not consider the first flight of the Falcon heavy which sent the Tesla car on a trajectory that will eventually pass Mars as a proper Mars mission. I am asking more about a mission that will go to Mars in a reasonable amount of time and will not be sitting in orbit around the sun for thousands of years. $\endgroup$ Oct 7, 2022 at 5:19
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    $\begingroup$ A Falcon Heavy costs \$150 million to launch. That is excluding any costs for the payload and any operational costs. Once any country/organization/business has the spare \$300M and is willing to spend it on a mission to Mars, I am sure SpaceX would be happy to send anything to Mars. $\endgroup$
    – Ruben
    Oct 7, 2022 at 8:44
  • $\begingroup$ @Ruben this site planetary.org/space-policy/cost-of-perseverance says that it cost 243 M dollars to launch perseverance. If Falcon heavy costs 300 M dollars to launch 16 x the amount of cargo that is a very good sign. $\endgroup$ Oct 7, 2022 at 9:39
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    $\begingroup$ Only one Earth-Mars Hohmann transfer window has occurred since Spacex threw the Tesla, and everything that went during the 2020 window likely already had their rides lined up. $\endgroup$
    – notovny
    Oct 7, 2022 at 10:21
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    $\begingroup$ The Mars 2020 mission, which included the Perseverance rover and the Ingenuity helicopter, had a launch mass of 2624 kg, not 1025 kg. You are forgetting the masses of the cruise stage (539 kg), the aeroshell (575 kg), the heat shield (440 kg), and the descent stage (1070 kg). $\endgroup$ Oct 7, 2022 at 11:09

1 Answer 1


Missions to Mars are infrequent, take a lot of time between concept development and launch (several years to well over a decade), and cost a lot. A whole lot. The launch cost is a small fraction of the overall cost for a Mars rover. For example, the launch cost represented about 10% of the overall cost for Perseverance.

This means Mars missions are infrequent. Nothing was planned for the 2022 launch window and nothing big is planned for the 2024 and 2026 launch windows. The next large Mars mission planned by NASA is the planned 2028 launch of the Mars sample return mission. Perhaps that will launch on a Falcon Heavy.

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    $\begingroup$ By 2028 Starship will probably be fully operational. $\endgroup$ Oct 7, 2022 at 15:56
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    $\begingroup$ You can't plan a multi-hundred-million-dollar government mission 6 years in advance on a "probably". $\endgroup$ Oct 7, 2022 at 15:58
  • $\begingroup$ @RussellBorogove Multi-billion dollar mission, not just multi-hundred-million. Orders of magnitude are important. $\endgroup$ Oct 8, 2022 at 5:14
  • $\begingroup$ ESA's ExoMars rover was planned to launch in the 2022 launch window, using a Russian launcher, until Russia invaded Ukraine. $\endgroup$
    – djr
    Oct 8, 2022 at 20:38

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