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Red Dragon mission to Mars pushed back; shift in development focus revealed

By Ryan Dawn Umadhay | Feb 21, 2017 08:09 AM EST
Red Dragon lander in development stage
(Photo : Screenshot: Youtube/Wiz Science™) Red Dragon lander in development stage

The SpaceX program is taking a backseat for a while as it experiences mission delays. While it's SpaceX rocket is making serious improvement in accurate landing, it's first unmanned mission to Mars is pushed back a couple of years.

Red Dragon Pushed Back

According to Engadget, SpaceX first unmanned trip to Mars through its Red Dragon lander will note make its planned 2018 target. The news was announced by SpaceX president during their rocket launch at NASA Kennedy Space Center.

Although the company will not make it to their intended target, their new target launch is still an impressive feat. The original target date for Red Dragon was 2022 but the company challenged itself to get the Red Dragon up in space next year. While the Red Dragon will not get in space by 2018, Elon Musk's space program should get the lander working by 2020.

The reason for delay is not on technical problems or even resources. According Ubergizmo, the delay is caused by the company's decision to shift its priorities. Red Dragon mission is still important but SpaceX decided to "focus more heavily on our crew program and our Falcon Heavy program."

Preparing for Manned Landing

Red Dragon's delay for a couple of years ultimately doesn't affect the original plan of SpaceX to put human settlement in Mars. By shifting its focus on the rocket that could launch the lander, the company sets itself to get more out of development with very little time. SpaceX's decision to focus on crew development also improves its chances in meeting its goal for manned mission to Mars.

The mission of Red Dragon when launched is to further look for evidence of life in the past or present. It's also set to test the equipment and resources humans could use when they arrive in Mars. The mission is also expected to demonstrate descent and landing scenarios for humans.

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