Space Exploration Technologies Corp. announced on Twitter that it is planning to send a spaceship to Mars by 2018.

The Hawthorne company will base its Mars-bound spacecraft on its existing Red Dragon space capsule, according to its Wednesday tweet. SpaceX would likely use a version of its Falcon Heavy, a rocket able to carry heavy payloads, for the 250 million-mile journey. The initial missions would be unmanned.

SpaceX landed a rocket vertically on a floating barge earlier this month. The company previously said remote barge landings would be safer options for possible return trips from Mars because boosters coming back from the red planet would likely be returning at higher speeds.

Technology reporter Garrett Reim can be reached at greim@labusinessjournal.com. Follow him on Twitter @garrettreim for the latest in L.A. tech news.

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