57

Red Dragon was intended to piggyback on the effort to develop and qualify Dragon for propulsive landings on Earth. The qualification hit a snag: NASA requirements for human-rating the propulsive landing system were so stringent that SpaceX decided they didn't want to spend the time and money to meet those requirements. That left development of the landing ...


13

Red Dragon was an attempt to get an early mission to Mars using off the shelf hardware. That is, assuming Dragon V2 was developed and off the shelf. Sure needed modifications but the core functionality was there. NASA and SpaceX decided in the development of Dragon V2 to use only parachute landings, and not powered landings. Thus no landing legs popping ...


12

Yes, by quite a bit. Right now the heaviest object soft landed on Mars is Curiosity, as you noted. The mass of it is 900 kg. The Red Dragon is 6400 kg, plus payload of up to 2000 kg (Maybe more for later flights) In fact, when successful, the Dragon will be more than the sum of every other object which attempted to soft landed on Mars. Each Viking massed ...


11

They have been testing supersonic retropropulsion on Earth: the Falcon 9 landings do their reentry burn in circumstances not too different from Mars' atmosphere. I've seen no announcement of a Dragon supersonic retropropulsion test on Earth, but that doesn't mean there won't be such a test. SpaceX does a lot without publicly announcing it.


10

They won't. Red Dragon is an unmanned concept demonstrator and experiment transport. SpaceX wants to use it to test Mars EDL (entry-descent-landing) technology and algorithms they develop for their next generation ship (currently known as ITS or BFR) which they want to use for astronauts.


10

Aviation Week seems to be the best source right now. A few interesting bits: NASA is spending up to $30 million in support, mostly to help gain information for EDL on Mars. A photo might be taken using either ground-based sources, or orbital sources, to help the process. The specific plans will be outlined at the International Astronautical Congress in ...


7

If the question is really "Is it reasonably likely the Red Dragon will successfully land on Mars on the first try?" I'd say 'probably yes' because they wouldn't accept that level of exposure and cost if it wasn't (reasonably likely). If SpaceX then says it is, then I'd just shorten that to 'yes'. But if they say "it's probably not going to work the first ...


7

In 2018 Red Dragon flight primary mission would be to prove a soft landing for a human rated vehicle, but this mission is also an opportunity to conclude even some others objectives. SpaceX cooperating with NASA has considered before a drilling mission concept searching for signs of water and current or prior life existence. According Wikipedia and this link ...


6

The article you linked makes it pretty clear that the goal is to test powered landing of Dragon spacecraft. Hence, I expect little to no payload at all. Of course there might be some token experiment, but it really does not need to be. What I do expect is some magnificent PR coverage of the whole event. So there will be some sort of moving pictures from the ...


5

No, not really. SpaceX has been focused on Mars for a long time. It would gain nothing by landing on the Moon towards that objective. The only advantage as compared to Mars is the timeline is considerably less, taking only a few days vs a few months. The hardest piece isn't landing on an object, it's landing it in the thin atmosphere of Mars. Bottom line is, ...


4

Not much is known about Red Dragon yet. There will be a brief communications blackout. For Mars the blackout period is around 30 seconds. Detailed study of comms blackout for Mars. Blackout is related to electron density, which depends on the speed/altitude profile. This article discusses the analysis of the UHF communications blackout (and brownout) ...


4

Solar panels for both Dragon versions are on the trunk of the craft, the unpressurized external (relative to the capsule) component that separates the capsule from the upper stage of the rocket that launches it. There's a bunch of reasons that the trunk must be jettisoned before landing: The trunk is aerodynamic for takeoff, though only with the panels ...


4

tl;dr: If you use (nearly) all your cargo capacity for additional propellant and get rid of heatshield etc. you might barely be able to land the Dragon II from Lunar orbit (back-of-the-envelope result). In all other cases you need to strap on additional propellant. From the answer to this question, we know that the delta v is more like 450m/s. According to ...


4

For a mission to Mars test should be done in Mars and for a Moon mission test should be done at Moon, because we have here different situation. Concentration for manned space exploration now is to Mars, for something new not achieved yet, so the interest it is more for that destination. In this way to fulfill their purposes and what they want to achieve with ...


4

The Martian atmosphere is very much thinner than Earths. So SRL on Mars needs to happen in the equivalent of the density of Mars's atmosphere. Thus when the Falcon 9 first stage is coming back for a landing on the ASDS ship (No longer a barge! Don't be a barge-ist on this site!) or back at LZ-1, they are collecting reentry data to share with NASA as it ...


3

The first difference is the Red Dragon will use a Falcon Heavy, which runs between \$30-\$80 million more than the Falcon 9. Note that the higher end of this is more likely reality, the Falcon Heavy is expected to be fully expended to get the Red Dragon to Mars, giving it the higher price tag. That alone accounts for almost half of the $180 million ...


3

I wasn't planning on answering my own question, but I've been obsessing about the problem. This paper https://www.lpi.usra.edu/meetings/marsconcepts2012/pdf/4216.pdf describes a landing with an entry mass of 7200kg, 1900KG of fuel, 5180kg of landed mass and 1000kg of actual payload. Launched by a Delta Heavy variant (it was written in 2012), it left about ...


3

SpaceX has been taking a very methodical approach to development. They started with a single engine vehicle (Falcon-1) and before they even had a successful first launch upgraded the engine. (Merlin-1A to Merlin-1B). Then they upgraded to a 9 engine version. Several inline upgrades along the way (1.0 to 1.1 to 1.1 Full Thrust, with engines going from 1C to ...


2

From LEO to a lunar soft landing takes about 6 km/s. Unlike a moon lander, a Mars lander can use aerobraking to shed velocity on arrival. I'm not sure how much aerobraking the Red Dragon would do but I'd venture to guess delta V from LEO to soft Mars landing is around 4 km/s.


2

From this question, we know the delta v is about 1700 m/s with the stock configuration of the Dragon 2. The heat shield will be replaced with some extra propellant for a Lunar lander. It's really hard to say how much mass that would be, but let's give it a 10% decrease in mass and the same increase in fuel. The Moon requires about 2.3 km/s It seems ...


2

At this early stage, it is unclear what SpaceX is really planning. They have passed up on the 2018 window, and now planning for the 2020 transfer window. This means they will have two more years to change their plans. Early suggestions have been to treat the inside as a missile silo with a one or two stage booster to launch from inside the Dragon capsule ...


1

Everything about Red Dragon is in flux, including whether it's doing a sample return at all, as the main purpose is to demonstrate landing. Chances are sample return depends heavily on how SpaceX does in the next few years, and where they focus, as it will be a challenging mission to engineer. I haven't seen a single proposal to have the capsule itself take ...


1

Launch vehicle and lander are estimated to be between 150 and 190 million. The cost of operation will be minimal because once the spacecraft is on it's way to Mars very little intervention is required during the trip. As for payload, SpaceX has been tight lipped but I expect a number of people will be excited to hitch a free ride to Mars, so I don't see ...


1

First of all, let's take a look at what SpaceX should have done prior to this point in time with the Dragon 2. The first uncrewed test is expected for May 2017. Before that, the Max Q abort test will have a limited test of landing using the propulsion (The primary will be a parachute, but some testing can be made of the landing from the landing propulsion ...


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