SpaceX's Red Dragon: A Private Mars Mission Plan in Pictures

SpaceX to Mars: Red Dragon


SpaceX's Red Dragon project, announced on April 27, 2016, officially puts the company on a path to Mars, possibly as early as 2018. See how SpaceX plans to send Dragon capsules to Mars in this slideshow. HERE: A SpaceX Dragon is seen near Mars in this artist's illustration. Read our full story on the announcement here.

Falcon Heavy and Red Dragon


To send Red Dragon to Mars, SpaceX is building a mega-rocket it calls the Falcon Heavy. Based on the company's successful Falcon 9, Falcon Heavy consists of three core rocket stages, each of which is equipped with landing legs for reusability. Reusability is a core focus for SpaceX to make spaceflight more affordable. According to founder Elon Musk, reusing rockets is vital in order to make its Mars missions a reality. Read our full story here.

Red Dragon Enters Mars Atmosphere


SpaceX's Red Dragon concept would send a Dragon-based spacecraft to Mars and use the capsule's thrusters to make a landing. This artist's illustration shows how Dragon could enter Mars' atmosphere. SpaceX has successfully returned Dragon capsules to Earth during space station resupply missions for NASA. Read our full story here.

SpaceX's Dragon Version 2 Spacecraft: How it Works (Infographic)

by Karl Tate, Infographics Artist

SpaceX's Dragon Version 2 spacecraft is a manned space capsule designed to fly seven astronauts to and from low-Earth orbit. See how SpaceX's Dragon V2 spacecraft works in this infographic.

How the SpaceX Falcon Heavy Rocket Works (Infographic)

By Karl Tate, Infographics Artist

SpaceX's Falcon Heavy rocket is a heavy-lift booster that will be the largest, most powerful privately built rocket in history. See how SpaceX's Falcon Heavy rocket will work in this infographic.

Red Dragon on Mars Descent


SpaceX's Red Dragon capsule would be equipped with landing thrusters to cushion its descent to the Martian surface. SpaceX's manned version of Dragon will use the company's SuperDraco thrusters as emergency abort engines. The company has said the SuperDracos could be used for future Dragon landings. Read our full story here.

SpaceX Red Dragon: Touchdown


This artist's view of SpaceX's Red Dragon clearly shows how the capsule would use its thrusters to make a soft, yet dramatic, landing on the Red Planet. Read our full story here.

Red Dragon on Mars


A depiction of SpaceX's Red Dragon on Mars. SpaceX's private Mars missions are slated to begin as early as 2018 and will inform the company's future architecture for Mars exploration. Read our full story here.

SpaceX on Mars: The Goal


Mars has long been the goal for SpaceX and its billionaire CEO Elon Musk. Musk has said repeatedly that his goal is to make humanity become a two-planet species. Read our full story here.

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Tariq Malik

Tariq is the Editor-in-Chief of and joined the team in 2001, first as an intern and staff writer, and later as an editor. He covers human spaceflight, exploration and space science, as well as skywatching and entertainment. He became's Managing Editor in 2009 and Editor-in-Chief in 2019. Before joining, Tariq was a staff reporter for The Los Angeles Times covering education and city beats in La Habra, Fullerton and Huntington Beach. In October 2022, Tariq received the Harry Kolcum Award for excellence in space reporting from the National Space Club Florida Committee. He is also an Eagle Scout (yes, he has the Space Exploration merit badge) and went to Space Camp four times as a kid and a fifth time as an adult. He has journalism degrees from the University of Southern California and New York University. You can find Tariq at and as the co-host to the This Week In Space podcast with space historian Rod Pyle on the TWiT network. To see his latest project, you can follow Tariq on Twitter @tariqjmalik.