Impulse and Relativity will send a private mission to Mars in 2026

Impulse Space and Relativity Space have announced the postponement of the launch date of their joint Mars exploration mission. It is planned for 2026.

Reasons for postponing the launch

Last year, Impulse Space and Relativity Space announced the project of the first ever private Mars mission involving a soft landing on the surface of the Red Planet. The companies distributed their responsibilities as follows. Impulse Space will undertake the creation of a flight module and a descent vehicle. In turn, Relativity Space will provide a carrier — a 3D-printed Terran R rocket.

At the time of the announcement, 2024 was named as the date for the implementation of the mission. However, at a recent presentation of the project held at the Humans to Mars conference, representatives of the companies announced that the launch was postponed to 2026.

The new design of the Terran R rocket. Source: Relativity Space

Neither Impulse Space nor Relativity Space gave any reasons for the postponement. But most likely, they are related to the recent decision to make changes to the design of the Terran R rocket. Initially, it was declared as a fully reusable carrier. But in the spring of 2023, the leadership of Relativity Space decided to increase the power of the rocket and abandon the reuse of the upper stage. Because of this, the date of its debut flight shifted from 2024 to 2026.

Cargo delivery on the Earth — Mars route

So far, representatives of Impulse Space and Relativity Space have reported not so many details of the technical device of their Martian spacecraft. It is known that in order to simplify the task, they plan to use NASA technologies involved in the InSight mission. In particular, we are talking about the design of the heat shield.

The heat shield of the InSight mission. Source: Lockheed Martin Corporation

In addition, Impulse Space specialists have conducted a series of tests of the Saiph engine, which are planned to be used to correct the course of the spacecraft on the way to Mars. The company is also working on a more powerful Rigel power unit, which will be used directly for the actual landing on the planet.

The ultimate goal of the two companies is to create a permanent transport corridor between the two planets. Impulse Space and Relativity Space plan to deliver cargo from various customers to Mars during each ballistic window, which opens once every 26 months.

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