SpaceX founder Elon Musk has famously said he wants to die on Mars—just not on impact. Today, the spaceflight company announced plans to begin sending Red Dragon spacecraft to the red planet by 2018. While the initial flights won’t have humans on board, they would represent a critical first step to putting astronaut boots on Mars.

As ambitious as that sounds, SpaceX isn’t the only space exploration hopeful with Mars in its sights. Last week, China also revealed plans to send a spacecraft to Mars in 2020, when (as in 2018) the alignment of Earth and Mars favors an easier interplanetary voyage.

The details for both endeavours are still vague, though the director of the China National Space Administration (CNSA) has hinted that the country’s mission will be considerably complicated… see more

source: National Geographic News