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SpaceX's Mars lander mission said to cost $300 million

Estimated price tag is revealed for Red Dragon, the mission that will lay the groundwork for the company's long-term goal of getting humans to Mars.

Michelle Meyers
Michelle Meyers wrote and edited CNET News stories from 2005 to 2020 and is now a contributor to CNET.
Michelle Meyers

An artist's illustration of what SpaceX hopes will become a real view some day.


NASA has suggested that SpaceX is spending around $300 million on its Red Dragon Mars lander mission, according to Space News.

The space exploration company has not disclosed how much it's spending on the Red Dragon mission it announced in April. But the price tag was revealed, indirectly, by a NASA administrator at a meeting on Tuesday, Space News reported. NASA estimates that the space agency will spend approximately $32 million on the mission, which it's supporting in exchange for data collected.

"They did talk to us about a 10-to-1 arrangement in terms of cost: theirs 10, ours 1," NASA's Jim Reuter is quoted as saying. "I think that's in the ballpark." Given NASA's investment, SpaceX's expenses would amount to more than $300 million.

NASA didn't immediately respond to a request for confirmation and comment on the Space News report. A SpaceX spokesman declined to comment other than referring back to NASA's estimate.

SpaceX founder Elon Musk has long talked about a goal of putting people on Mars in 10 years. Red Dragon lays the groundwork for that dream to become reality. SpaceX has said the Dragon lander will reach Mars as soon as 2018.