NASA confirms the Dragonfly mission to Saturn’s Moon: Titan

NASA has given the final approval to proceed with the Dragonfly mission to Saturn’s Moon Titan with a launch scheduled for July 2028 and arriving at Titan in 2034.

This approval gives teams the funding needed to complete the final design, construction, and pre-flight testing of all systems.

Artist concept of Dragonfly on Titan (Credit NASA/JOHNS HOPKINS APL/STEVE GRIBBEN)

The amount given to complete this mission came to $3.35 billion after originally expected to be a max of $850 million. Still, delays and supply chain issues during the COVID-19 pandemic caused a significant cost increase to the mission.

As a result of this delay, NASA has also allocated funds for a heavy-lift rocket to help shorten the cruise time between Earth and Titan and ensure a landing in 2034. NASA has yet to reveal which rocket will be sending the mission to Titan.

Dragonfly is a double-rotor quadcopter designed to fly around various locations on Titan. The vehicle has 8 total rotors, with each measuring 1 meter in length. The vehicle mass is expected to be around 450 kg (~990 lbs).

Concept art of Dragonfly’s landing sequence (Credit NASA/JOHNS HOPKINS APL/STEVE GRIBBEN)

Once the cruise portion of the flight is complete, it will enter Titan’s thick atmosphere using a heatshield, followed by the deployment of a drogue chute and then a larger chute. Once low enough in altitude, the heatshield will be ejected and Dragonfly will be activated and dropped mid-air to begin its first flight to locate a landing spot autonomously. This entire process is expected to take just over an hour and a half.

After landing, the vehicle will finish system checkouts, communicate back to Earth, and prepare for its first scientific mission.

Dragonfly will be powered by a Multi-mission radioisotope thermoelectric generator (MMRTG), similar to the Mars rovers Curiosity and Perseverance.

The MMRTG will give Dragonfly enough power to fly as high as 4,000 meters and up to 10 kilometers on a single battery charge. The vehicle will be capable of reaching speeds up to 22 mph.

Are you looking forward to following this mission over the next decade?

Questions or comments? Shoot me an email at, or Tweet me @RDAnglePhoto.

Richard Angle: Launch journalist, specializing in launch photography. Based on the Space Coast, a short drive from Cape Canaveral and the SpaceX launch pads.
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