NASA’s ambitious “Red Dragon” project could take off by 2022. The project is aimed at bringing rock samples from Mars, using NASA’s 2020 Mars rover. The organisation will then analyse the rocks for any signs of life on the planet. The project would use Space X's Crew Dragon capsule for achieving the goal.
Earlier, it was expected that the project would cost around $6 billion, but researches may have found a way to keep the costs down. That’s where SpaceX’s Crew Dragon comes into the picture. Andy Gonzales of NASA’s Ames Research Center in California said that the Red Dragon is "technically feasible with the use of these emerging commercial technologies, coupled with technologies that already exist.” It would have a robotic arm, extra fuel tanks, and a central tube, which would include a rocket-powered Mars Ascent Vehicle (MAV) and an Earth Return Vehicle (ERV). As for the working, the robotic arm would collect the samples from the 2020 Mars rover’s on-board storage and transfer them to into ERV, which is at the top of MAV. After that, the MAV would get separated from the capsule just like a missile blasts off from the silo. It would then send the ERV to the Earth with the samples.
Incidentally, the NASA team is yet to contact Elon Musk and the SpaceX team regarding their support for the Red Dragon project. The project was first proposed by the team last year and they are yet to get the approval for the same from NASA.
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