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Jul 31, 2016 04:30 AM EDT

SpaceX's Red Dragon Mission To Mars Would Cost $320 Million, NASA Confirms [VIDEO]

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SpaceX plans to send the unmanned spaceship, Red Dragon, to Mars as early as 2018. It was revealed during the NASA Advisory Council meeting that the mission would cost around $320 million.

SpaceX had unveiled its plans to go to the Red Planet last April. Elon Musk had specifically mentioned that their goal is to send human beings onto Mars in a few years time, Spaceflight Insider reported.

It is expected that the shuttle to be used to bring humans to the Red Planet would be the Crew Dragon. The modified, unmanned version of the vessel is the Red Dragon, which is planned to go to the planet's orbit ahead of time.

SpaceX would send the unmanned shuttle to initially conduct an initial landing protocol which would provide invaluable data to be used by the manned Crew Dragon to follow Red Dragon.

It was detailed in the meeting that the Red Dragon would use retrorockets to decrease its speed sufficiently to execute a safe landing; instead of making use of airbags or parachutes as previous missions have done in the past.

Jim Reuter, a representative of NASA, have stated that the $320 million price tag for the Red Dragon Mars mission is relatively on the cheap side, as previous estimates from previous space flights have easily garnered billions in terms of cost, The Verge reported.

NASA has finally publicly expressed its support for the SpaceX Mars mission, and had stated that the government agency would provide advice, as well as technical support to the private company. The two parties have agreed to exchange data gathered in the mission.

It has been reported that the two parties have agreed to exchange data that would ultimately lead to academic progress, and no further; NASA and SpaceX are not bound to exchange funds or the like.

It was also revealed during the council meeting that SpaceX was spending 10 times more than that of NASA. Musk's aeronautics company has agreed to cover most of the expense, which was shared 10 to 1. The terms were agreed upon by the government agency, according to Space News.

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