The partnership between NASA and SpaceX may be the best way to go to Mars. An unmanned Dragon capsule by the private-owned company is expected to land on the Red Planet in 2018.
PopSci reported that NASA will be providing SpaceX with technical support during the mission. In exchange, the company will need to give the space agency data on the spacecraft's entry, descent, and landing on Mars.
"Sending astronauts to Mars, which will be one of the greatest feats of human innovation in the history of civilization, carries with it many, many puzzles to piece together," NASA Deputy Administrator Dava Newman wrote in a blog post. "That's why we at NASA have made it a priority to reach out to partners in boardrooms, classrooms, laboratories, space agencies and even garages across our country and around the world."
NASA's partnership with SpaceX is not bound by monetary rewards. Rather, the two companies will be sending information back and forth.
The publication noted that this is a "smart move" by the space agency financially. This is one of the many successful partnerships with private companies that NASA has gained.
According to Inverse, NASA believes that a SpaceX partnership is the smartest way to Mars. The Red Dragon Mars mission is expected to be the first test flight of the Dragon 2.
Washington Post added that SpaceX is planning to send an empty spacecraft on Mars as soon as 2018. The private company took to Twitter on Wednesday to make the announcement.
"Planning to send Dragon to Mars as soon as 2018," the company's official Twitter account posted. "Red Dragons will inform overall Mars architecture, details to come."
The ultimate goal of the NASA and SpaceX partnership is to be able to send humans to the Red Planet by 2030. WP also noted that this collaboration shows how the space agency's role in space exploration has shifted significantly in recent years.