Want CNET to notify you of price drops and the latest stories?

SpaceX plans to reach Mars as soon as 2018

The Mars rush is on for SpaceX and its cargo-carrying Dragon spacecraft. It hopes to touch down on the Red Planet within just a few years.

Amanda Kooser
Freelance writer Amanda C. Kooser covers gadgets and tech news with a twist for CNET. When not wallowing in weird gear and iPad apps for cats, she can be found tinkering with her 1956 DeSoto.
Amanda Kooser

SpaceX hopes this scene will be real in 2018.


It's no secret SpaceX wants to get to Mars. In 2014, founder Elon Musk said he hoped to put humans on Mars in 10 years. In late 2015, a SpaceX investor alluded to a major push to reach Mars. But now it's official.

The spacecraft maker on Wednesday announced plans via Twitter to reach Mars as soon as 2018.

"Planning to send Dragon to Mars as soon as 2018. Red Dragons will inform overall Mars architecture, details to come," reads the tweet. Dragon is SpaceX's vehicle designed for flying both people and cargo. It has been the subject of extensive testing, including an impressive hovering exercise.

Information is scant at the moment, but Musk filled in a few small details on his own Twitter feed. "Dragon 2 is designed to be able to land anywhere in the solar system. Red Dragon Mars mission is the first test flight," he tweeted. Musk also dashed any hopes you have of signing on to be the first human on Mars. "But wouldn't recommend transporting astronauts beyond Earth-moon region. Wouldn't be fun for longer journeys. Internal volume ~size of SUV," he wrote.

The Dragon capsule is still 2-3 years away from its first manned test flight, according to SpaceX. There may be a Dragon on Mars in 2018, but don't expect any people to be in its belly.