SpaceX Red Dragon Landing ~1 minute read

SpaceX Red Dragon Landing

This is the approximate trajectory of the SpaceX Red Dragon capsule during its landing on Mars.

  1. Red Dragon controls its trajectory by sliding a mass along an internal rail (to shift the center of mass) and rolling along its long axis. This is used to fine-tune the landing ellipse.
  2. After the period of peak heating, Red Dragon continues to adjust its trajectory. During this time, it’s still travelling at several times the speed of sound; the vehicle bleeds off speed while gaining some altitude.
  3. As Red Dragon approaches the surface, its eight SuperDraco engines ignite for the landing. At this point, Red Dragon is travelling at its terminal velocity of about Mach 2.
  4. The four landing feet, built into the bottom of Red Dragon (and integrated into the heatshield) extend moments before touchdown.
  5. Red Dragon touches down on Mars.

This infographic was created by Jon Ross. Contact me if you'd like to use it anywhere.