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Credit: SpaceX​Elon Musk is going to Mars in 2018. Well, not Musk personally, but his company SpaceX is set to be the first private company to land on Mars.

“Planning to send Dragon to Mars as soon as 2018,” the company tweeted on Wednesday. “Red Dragons will inform overall Mars architecture, details to come.”

According to The Verge, the Red Dragon is a modified version of the company’s Dragon spacecraft, which is used to transport payloads to the International Space Station (ISS).

“Dragon 2 is designed to be able to land anywhere in the solar system. Red Dragon Mars mission is the first test flight,” Musk tweeted. “But wouldn’t recommend transporting astronauts beyond Earth-moon region. Wouldn’t be fun for longer journeys. Internal volume ~size of SUV.”

According to the Los Angeles Times, the Dragon is slated to be launched by the company’s Falcon Heavy rocket.

The rocket can lift some 117,000 lbs into orbit, and “was designed from the outset to carry humans into space and restores the possibility of flying missions with crew to the moon or Mars,” according to SpaceX.   

The news comes on the heels of SpaceX’s successful landing of its Falcon 9 rocket on a robotic barge in the Atlantic Ocean in early April. Previous attempts were marred with difficulties.

Popular Science points out that SpaceX’s announcement was preceded by a NASA announcement, in which the agency said it’s cutting funds for a Mars landing technology project by 85 percent.

  

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