SpaceX just announced they're planning to send their Red Dragon capsule to Mars as soon as 2018!
This privately-funded, unmanned mission will bring the company one step closer to achieving Elon Musk's goal to land humans on Mars, and to establish a colony on the red planet. The capsule will launch on the yet-to-be-completed Falcon Heavy rocket, indicating SpaceX may be one of the first customers of its new heavy-lift rocket. Not a lot of details are known but it seems this will be mainly a proof-of-concept mission to capture data.
The Red Dragon is a modified version of the capsule SpaceX sends to the International Space Station, the main difference is that Red Dragon is equipped with eight SuperDraco engines for a propulsive landing on the Martian surface, similar to how SpaceX lands its Falcon 9 rockets.
If successful, the Red Dragon will be the heaviest object ever to land on Mars.
Planning to send Dragon to Mars as soon as 2018. Red Dragons will inform overall Mars architecture, details to come pic.twitter.com/u4nbVUNCpA