The new Spacex Dragon V2 can carry seven astronauts for several days
It can land propulsively with the accuracy of a helicopter anywhere on Earth.
It has an improved pica heat shield.
It should be carrying astronauts in 2017 or 2018 to the space station and other places in orbit.
The new version of Dragon has several improvements over the old one. First of all, it can autonomously dock with the International Space Station. That’s different from Dragon version one, which requires astronauts on board the station to grapple the spacecraft with the station’s giant robot arm to move it into position.
Dragon version 2 is also equipped with the eight of the company’s new SuperDraco engines. These engines, which can provide 16,000 pounds of thrust, are capable of allowing the spacecraft bypass an ocean landing and instead simply come back to wherever SpaceX needs it to land. The craft is also equipped with sensors that can ensure those engines are working – otherwise, it’s equipped with parachutes and can splashdown as an alternative.
The SuperDraco engines are 3D printed.
One key element of the new Dragon that Elon Musk highlighted was its reusability. Since the spacecraft can land with accuracy rather than needing to be splashed down in the ocean, Musk noted that this mean a Dragon spacecraft could theoretically be refueled and be ready to get back into space in a very short period of time.
The Tesla Electric Car designs have carried over a bit into the Spacex Dragon V2. The Dragon V2 has big touch screens for controlling the craft.