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SpaceX teases 2018 Mars mission for its Red Dragon spacecraft

The company tweeted the announcement.

SpaceX / Twitter

Earlier this month, SpaceX successfully landed a capsule after a space flight on a floating pad in the ocean, its second successful landing since December.

But that feels like small potatoes compared to what Elon Musk’s space flight company teased today: A 2018 mission to Mars with a modified version of its Dragon spacecraft. In a tweet promising that more details are forthcoming, the company showed off a couple concept photos and revealed the target date.

At an event in Hong Kong in February, Musk said that SpaceX planned to formally announce its Mars plans sometime later in 2016. Late last year, NASA announced that it had ordered a Dragon to transport a crew to the International Space Station, to be ready in late 2017.

One more thing: Red Dragon, SpaceX’s planned Mars spacecraft, shares the name of a book by author Thomas Harris. The novel is about an FBI agent in search of a serial killer obsessed with a “Great Red Dragon” from a painting. The investigator is aided by Hannibal Lecter, an insane serial killer and cannibal.

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