SpaceX will spend $300 million on Red Dragon Mars mission, NASA says

SpaceX Red Dragon
This artist rendering provided by SpaceX shows a Dragon capsule sitting on the surface of Mars.

SpaceX is likely spending about $300 million on its unmanned Red Dragon Mars mission, according to NASA estimates.

The topic came up at a NASA Advisory Council committee meeting Tuesday, when agency official Jim Reuter said SpaceX’s spending on the mission was about 10 times that of NASA’s, according to Space News.

NASA said it will provide SpaceX with technical support worth about $32 million over four years to help land the Dragon 2 on the Red Planet. Of that amount, about $6 million will be spent in fiscal year 2016.

NASA said the resources for this workforce already are dedicated to research on entry, descent and landing — the same kind of data it’s looking to collect from the SpaceX mission. 


Hawthorne-based SpaceX has said it will send the unmanned Dragon 2 spacecraft to Mars as early as 2018. That mission is intended to demonstrate a way to land large payloads on Mars without parachutes or other aerodynamic decelerators, the company said in April.

If all goes according to plan, a crewed mission to Mars could blast off in 2024 with arrival on the Red Planet in 2025, SpaceX has said.

Company Chief Executive Elon Musk has said he will give more details about SpaceX’s “architecture for Mars colonization” in September at a global space conference.


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