Apparently, SpaceX founder Elon Musk may have even bigger plans for its Mars 2018 goal. The company recently partnered with NASA for the project.
Quartz reported that the private-owned company's well-funded and veteran engineers combined with its dreams of a Mars landing in the next two years is definitely a unique mix. Moreover, SpaceX has a "stealthier goal," too.
Last month, the company was successfully able to land a rocket at sea. This is believed to be a step forward with regards to being able to land on Martian soil without parachutes, airbags or "skycranes" but with rockets alone.
The publication added that SpaceX faces a different challenge in making a rocket successfully land on Mars. The Red Planet's gravity is more than twice as strong as the Moon's. This means that a spacecraft needs more help decelerating after it breaches the planet's atmosphere.
Moreover, Mars's atmosphere is much, much thinner than Earth's. SpaceX would need to address that problem and be able to produce a spacecraft that can land safely on the Red Planet.
"The idea, essentially, is to skip the parachute and go right to the rocket," San Martin, a senior engineer at NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab, said. It was said that adding a heat shield to the Dragon space capsule's engines could be used to slow down its high-speed entry to a safe landing on the surface.
Meanwhile, BuzzFeed News reported that NASA has requested Congress for $1.3 billion for the development of its "next jumbo rocket." The Senate Appropriations Committee has approved the request and even added an extra $995 million to build it.
The space rocket is named the Space Launch System (SLS). There are no plans to send astronauts to space yet, until 2023. It also does not have a destination yet.
"The point is to spend money and create jobs the way the Soviet Union did on its rocket design bureaus," NASA Watch's Keith Cowing told the publication. He also deemed the SLS as "a rocket to nowhere."