Two companies join SpaceX in the race to Mars, with a possible launch in 2024

in great shape , Here is a preliminary design of the Mars lander to be built by Impulse Space.

Impulse Space

Relativity Space has not launched a single rocket, and Impulse Space has never tested one of its thrusters in space. Still, on Tuesday, two California-based companies announced their intention to launch an ambitious mission that will land on the surface of Mars in less than three years.

This would be the first commercial mission to Mars, and such a claim can generally be dismissed as absurd. But this announcement—audacious though it may be—is probably worth taking seriously because of the companies and players involved.

Founded in 2015, Relativity has raised more than $1 billion and should launch its tiny Terran 1 rocket later this year. The company, which wants to 3D print most of its vehicles, is already deep into development of a fully reusable Terran R rocket. This booster is intended to be somewhat more powerful than SpaceX’s Falcon 9 and will carry commercial missions to Mars. Relativity plans to have the Terran R rocket ready for launch in 2024, with the Mars payload flying on its first mission to Mars in late 2024.

Impulse Space is new, less than a year old, but not without experienced engineers. The company was founded by Tom Mueller, the first employee hired at SpaceX and the leader of its propulsion division for more than a decade. Their engines power the Falcon 9, Falcon Heavy and Dragon vehicles. Mueller considers the launch to be a “solved problem” and is developing a line of non-toxic, low-cost thrusters to serve the propulsion market in space.

“This is a new era of spaceflight, and we want to be positioned to provide reliable, low-cost, in-space propulsion,” Mueller said in an interview with Ars. “We want to do it all—orbital, lunar, interplanetary.”

Mission Concept

The Mars mission was conceived last year when Relativity’s vice president of engineering and construction, Zach Dunn, reached out to Mueller. Both were old friends. Mueller hired Dunn at SpaceX in 2006, where the intern was soon put in charge of engine testing and then overall propulsion systems for the company’s early Falcon rockets. Relativity wanted to make a splash with its first Terran R mission, and Mueller accepted the challenge.

The companies designed a mission in which the Terran-R vehicle would propel a Mars cruise vehicle developed by Impulse Space into a trajectory toward Mars. On reaching the Red Planet, the lander will separate from the cruise stage. The lander will take advantage of aeroshell technology developed by NASA for its Mars Phoenix lander and other vehicles and use the same entry velocity and angle as the NASA mission. The Impulse Space Lander will then rapidly descend under the power of four thrusters, similar in action to a quadcopter. With this mission design, Impulse plans to deliver tens of kilograms of scientific payloads to the surface of Mars.

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