The SpaceX Dragon 2 Crew capsule was revealed.
SpaceX is targeting crewed Dragon flight prices of $160 million, or $20 million per seat if the maximum crew of 7 is aboard, and if NASA orders at least four DragonRider flights per year.
There is a planned uncrewed test launch on January 17, 2019
Incredible opportunity to see @SpaceX's Dragon 2 Capsule – an important part of the future of American human space exploration as we aim to return American astronauts to space on U.S. rockets from U.S. soil! pic.twitter.com/Pk5lkpOFEX
— Vice President Mike Pence (@VP) December 18, 2018
Dragon 2 includes the following features:
Reusability: partly reusable; can be flown multiple times, resulting in a significant cut in the cost of access to space. SpaceX anticipates that about ten flights are possible before significant vehicle refurbishing is needed.
Capacity: 3,307 kilograms (7,291 lb) Cargo Dragon 2; seven astronauts Crew Dragon 2
Landing: four main parachutes for water landing; possibility of developing propulsive landing using the SuperDraco engines.
Engines (crewed variant): eight side-mounted SuperDraco engines, clustered in redundant pairs in four engine pods, with each engine able to produce 71 kilonewtons (16,000 lbf) of thrust Each pod—called a “quad” by SpaceX—contains two SuperDraco engines plus four Draco thrusters. “Nominally, only two quads are used for on-orbit propulsion with the Dracos and two quads are reserved for propulsive landing using the SuperDracos.
Engines (cargo variant): four Draco thrusters per pod with four pods, used for orbital maneuvers.
A 3D-printed rocket engine: the SuperDraco Engine combustion chamber is printed of Inconel, an alloy of nickel and iron, using a process of direct metal laser sintering. Engines are contained in a protective nacelle to prevent fault propagation if an engine fails.
Docking: able to autonomously dock to space stations. Dragon V1 used berthing, a non-autonomous means to attach to the ISS that was completed by use of the Canadarm2 robotic arm. Pilot ability to park the spacecraft using manual controls if needed
Propellant tanks: composite-carbon-overwrap titanium spherical tanks to hold the helium used to pressurize engines and also for the SuperDraco fuel and oxidizer
Thermal protection: SpaceX-developed SPAM backshell; updated third-generation PICA-X heat shield
Controls: tablet-like computer that swivels down for optional crew control by the pilot and co-pilot
Brian Wang is a Futurist Thought Leader and a popular Science blogger with 1 million readers per month. His blog Nextbigfuture.com is ranked #1 Science News Blog. It covers many disruptive technology and trends including Space, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Medicine, Anti-aging Biotechnology, and Nanotechnology.
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