NASA’s science and space technology mission directorates are considering ways to cooperate with SpaceX on its Red Dragon mission, including flying payloads on that Mars lander.
In a June 2 interview during the Next-Generation Suborbital Researchers Conference in Broomfield, Colorado, Steve Jurczyk, NASA associate administrator for space technology, said his office has a “wish list” of technology demonstration payloads they would like to fly on Red Dragon or a future SpaceX Mars mission.
“We’ve had very preliminary talks on payloads for the 2018 mission,” he said. However, he added that, with less than 24 months before the launch window for that mission opens, it was unlikely NASA would have such a payload ready to fly in time.
In April, NASA and SpaceX announced they had revised an existing unfunded Space Act Agreement to focus on a planned 2018 Mars lander mission, using a version of the Dragon spacecraft SpaceX is developing to carry crews. Under that agreement, NASA will offer technical support to SpaceX in a number of areas, while SpaceX will provide NASA with data from the entry, descent and landing (EDL) phase of Red Dragon’s mission to support NASA’s planning for future Mars missions of its own.