Photos & Illustrations CREDIT: SpaceX and / or NASA unless stated otherwise.
The drawing above illustrates the Mars Colonial Transport (MCT) entry into Mars’ atmosphere at the end of the six-month passage to Mars from Earth’s orbit. The entry technique used by the Mars Colonial Transport (MCT) Spacecraft is the same as was used by the Space Shuttle, but the MCT uses Propulsive Landing, which is a new landing technique that has been developed and tested on the SpaceX Falcon rockets.
From interplanetary space, the ship enters the Mars atmosphere, either capturing into orbit or proceeding directly to a Propulsive Landing.
Using its aerodynamic lift capability and advanced heat shield materials, the ship can decelerate from entry velocities of 8.5 km/s or 12.5 km/s at Earth. G-forces (Earth-referenced) during entry are about 4 to 6 g’s at Mars and about 2 to 3 g’s at Earth.
Propulsive Landing is a key feature that allows both the Booster and MCT personnel carrier to be refurbished and reused, which greatly reduces the cost of space travel, as was outlined in LGOATM #2.