It is the craft that will see America return to space.
Elon Musk’s SpaceX today gave the first look inside the Space Dragon, which Nasa hopes will begin ferrying US astronauts to the International space Station.
The capsule measures about 20 feet tall by 12 feet in diameter, and will carry up to 7 astronauts at a time.
‘Dragon made history in 2012 when it became the first commercial spacecraft to deliver cargo to the space station, a feat previously achieved only by governments,’ SpaceX said.
‘But Dragon was also designed from the beginning to carry people, and today SpaceX is finalizing the necessary refinements to make that a reality.’
‘Crew Dragon was designed to be an enjoyable ride,’ SapceX said – despite the images showing a rather basic seating plan.
‘With four windows, passengers can take in views of Earth, the Moon, and the wider Solar System right from their seats, which are made from the highest-grade carbon fiber and Alcantara cloth.’
The craft will replace the Russian Soyuz craft US astronauts currently have to hitch a ride on.
Within two years Nasa hopes that two private space companies – SpaceX and Boeing – will begin taking astronauts into orbit, reducing its reliance on Russia’s Soyuz spacecraft.
Unlike Soyuz, the Crew Dragon will use thrusters to land, instead of splashing down in the ocean.
According to SpaceX, ‘This system also enables Dragon v2 to land propulsively on Earth or another planet with the precision of a helicopter, making possible interplanetary trips that would otherwise be constrained by ocean landings.’
The Crew Dragon features an advanced emergency escape system (which was tested earlier this year) to swiftly carry astronauts to safety if something were to go wrong, experiencing about the same G-forces as a ride at Disneyland.
for astronauts aboard, it should be an uneventful trip.
Crew Dragon Crew Dragon has an Environmental Control and Life Support System (ECLSS) that provides a comfortable and safe environment for crew members.
During their trip, astronauts on board can set the spacecraft’s interior temperature to between 65 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit.
Crew Dragon’s displays will provide real-time information on the state of the spacecraft’s capabilities, showing everything from Dragon’s position in space, to possible destinations, to the environment on board.
They won’t be able to control the craft unless there’s an emergency – Crew Dragon will be a fully autonomous spacecraft that can also be monitored & controlled by on board astronauts and SpaceX mission control in Hawthorne, CA.
Earlier this year SpaceX successfully launched its new Crew Dragon spacecraft that will one day take astronauts into orbit.
The launch passed without a hitch today at almost exactly 2pm BST (9am EDT), with the capsule’s eight thrusters taking it into the air.
The total time from lift off to touchdown was one minute and 39 seconds, with the spacecraft successfully splashing down in the Atlantic Ocean to await being retrieved by a nearby ship.
Their Crew Dragon vehicle demonstrated how it would detach from a rocket and carry astronauts to safety if there was an emergency on the launch pad, such as a risk of an explosion.
The test today was called a ‘pad abort test’, and took place from Space Launch Complex 40 at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.
It involved the manned vehicle launching to safety from a simulated emergency on the launch pad.
The flight lasted just 99 seconds, eight seconds shorter than planned, but still successfully demonstrating how the crew would be carried to safety.
For example, if the rocket carrying the spacecraft was in danger some reason, Dragon would have to separate from the rocket and launch its crew away.
Ship In Orbit
For a spacecraft to be deemed safe for humans to travel in, it must be able to pass this test.
The engines can each produce 15,000 pounds of thrust, and are expected to lift the spacecraft to about 5,000ft (1,500 metres) above the ground.
For this test, the spacecraft parachuted into the Atlantic Ocean about a mile (1.6km) offshore, where recovery teams are now on hand to retrieve it.
On future missions to space, the Crew Dragon will be intended to land on the ground.
It will be capable of taking up to seven astronauts to and from orbit – such as the ISS – and SpaceX also has plans to use it on their proposed missions to Mars.
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