SpaceX leaves Red Dragon out of Mars plan

SpaceX Red Dragon landing
Artwork shows a Red Dragon capsule firing its thrusters for a Mars landing. (SpaceX Illustration)

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk says he expects to see astronauts flying to the International Space Station on his company’s Dragon capsules by mid-2018 – but is downplaying a technology that would have opened the way for robotic “Red Dragon” missions to Mars.

His comments today at the International Space Station Research and Development Conference in Washington, D.C., lent credence to suggestions that SpaceX was shelving its Red Dragon plan and shifting its focus to an Interplanetary Transport System capable of sending settlers to the Red Planet.

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By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributor to GeekWire and Universe Today, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," past president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing.

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