Spacex Superdraco engines and unmanned Red Dragon mission to Mars planned for 2018

The Spacex SuperDraco’s technical specifications were submitted to the Federal Aviation Administration as part of an environmental assessment of engine tests at the MacGregor site. Each SuperDraco thruster can produce 16,400 pounds of thrust. The total power of the eight-thruster system, clustered in four pairs around the spacecraft, is 122,600 pounds. The lower thrust level of the combined eight-thrusters is limited to maintain stability.. Each thruster has a 20-cm exit nozzle, with an exhaust velocity of 2,300 meters per second. The system’s hypergolic propellant allows the Dragon 2 to accelerate from zero to 100 mph in 1.2 seconds.

SpaceX plans crewed tests of the SuperDraco-equipped Dragon 2 in 2017. The target is a possible uncrewed Red Dragon landing on Mars in 2018. Many more Mars missions will follow a successful Red Dragon mission.