Space start-ups Relativity, Impulse to attempt Mars mission in 2024

Two start-ups, Relativity Space and Impulse Space, announced a program to launch a Mars lander mission in 2024. 

Impulse intends to build a lander and a spacecraft to carry it, while Relativity’s Terran R rocket will carry them to trans-Mars injection orbit. 

Following six months of traveling, the plan is for the lander to soft-land on the surface of Mars with the help of a parachute and retrorockets.

“This is a major milestone for both Impulse and Relativity, as well as the entire space industry,” Tom Muller, the CEO of Impulse Space, stated in the company’s press release. 

With the delivery capabilities of Terran R coupled with Impulse’s in-space transportation, we are bringing humanity one step closer to making Mars a reality,” added Tim Ellis, the CEO of Relativity. 

Relativity Space, founded in 2015, aims to become the first company to start manufacturing fully 3D-printed rockets. The maiden flight of its Terran 1 small-lift launch vehicle is planned for summer 2022, while the larger Terran R, a fully-reusable medium-lift rocket, is expected to become operational in 2024. 

In 2021, Relativity unveiled the Stargate, which it claims is the world’s largest 3D metal printer and can manufacture a rocket in under two months.  

Impulse Space was founded by Tom Muller, one of the founders of SpaceX, and aims to design space propulsion systems.  

The announcement did not mention what kind of systems the company’s Mars lander would carry. 

The mission plans to use 2024 launch window, when Earth and Mars are closest to each other. Several other missions, including from NASA and Japan’s JAXA, are also intending to use the launch window. 

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