SpaceX plans to be on Mars as early as 2018

SpaceX plans to land on Mars as early as the year 2018, the company announced in a tweet today. Mars has become the newest goal for space agencies around the world, and companies like SpaceX are helping develop the technology necessary to get humans there. According to the tweet, SpaceX plans to "send a Dragon to Mars as soon as 2018. Red Dragons will inform overall Mars architecture, details to come."

No further details about the planned mission was provided, though SpaceX teases that we'll be hearing more soon enough. The spacecraft will not be manned — humans heading into deep space is still largely a work-in-progress — but the company's voyage will mark a big milestone in helping get humanity to that point.

It's quite an ambitious goal with an even more ambitious timeframe, but the company has proven in the past that it can, with enough trial-and-error, achieve its goals. Most recently, SpaceX managed to land a rocket first stage onto a droneship in the ocean, paving the way for lower-cost missions and reusable rockets.

By comparison, NASA doesn't plan to have humans on Mars until sometime in 2030s; it is still working on developing the technologies needed for humans to survive the travel there and their time spent on the planet. NASA will be lending SpaceX some of its technical (read: non-monetary) support, a move that isn't surprising given SpaceX's involvement with the U.S. space agency. In return, SpaceX will provide NASA with a slew of data if (when?) it succeeds.