[meteorite-list] SpaceX Dragon Capsule Could Bring Soil Samples Back From Mars

From: Ron Baalke <baalke_at_meteoritecentral.com>
Date: Thu, 17 Sep 2015 16:01:00 -0700 (PDT)
Message-ID: <201509172301.t8HN10tm016886_at_zagami.jpl.nasa.gov>


SpaceX Dragon Capsule Could Bring Soil Samples Back From Mars

But settling the life-on-Mars debate is just the beginning

By Sarah Fecht
Popular Science
September 14, 2015

SpaceX's Dragon capsule has been dutifully carting supplies to and from
the International Space Station since 2012. Now a team of researchers
wants to send the Dragon capsule to Mars and back.

The "Red Dragon" mission concept is just a concept, with no formal plans
to carry it out yet. But scientists envision that a Dragon capsule could
rendezvous with the 2020 Mars rover, which may collect samples of Martian
soil to eventually return to Earth. So far, NASA hasn't chosen a plan
for getting those samples back to Earth.

Team "Red Dragon" suggests that a Dragon capsule could launch from Earth
on a SpaceX heavy rocket, travel to Mars, and set down near the rover
or samples the rover caches.

Equipped with arms, the Dragon could grab the samples (or, if all else
fails, collect its own) and attach them to a launch vehicle that sits
atop the capsule. The launch vehicle would send the sample back to Earth.

That's a lot of trouble to go through to get a bunch of rocks and dirt.
But it's still up for debate as to whether life could have thrived on
Mars in the past or even in the present day, and the best way to settle
the debate is by getting samples into the hands of human scientists.

Red Dragon is "technically feasible with the use of these emerging commercial
technologies, coupled with technologies that already exist," said Andy
Gonzales from NASA's Ames Research Center during a conference last week.

Although Elon Musk isn't involved in the "Red Dragon" idea, he lent his
support for the idea via Twitter. And in fact, it sounds like he's even
got bigger plans for the Dragon, hinting at the possibility of sending
more complex missions (or even supplies for a human base??) to Mars and
Received on Thu 17 Sep 2015 07:01:00 PM PDT

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