On Wednesday, Elon Musk’s private company SpaceX announced on Twitter that it plans to send a spacecraft to Mars as soon as 2018.
The mission – which SpaceX is calling ‘Red Dragon’ – will involve sending a Dragon 2 spacecraft to Mars to retrieve samples collected by NASA’s Mars rover and then return them to Earth.
SpaceX has had big plans to usher in a new era of reusable rockets that could send the first humans to Mars and return them home for a while. In 2011, SpaceX released a video showing how they were going to re-land a rocket booster after launching it to space – something that had never been done before. And in 2015, SpaceX began attempting to land their rockets exactly how they had envisioned in the video.