Spacious and elegant interious of crewed version of Dragon Spacecraft unveiled By SpaceX
SpaceX uncovered the new Crew Dragon spacecraft, unveiling a sleek black and white interior for the capsule it is building to fly astronauts to the International Space Station and other destinations. This spacecraft is being developed under a contract with NASA probably worth $2.6 billion to ferry astronauts to and from the International Space Station, with the first flights expected to start by 2017.
Boeing, which also holds a contract to fly crew to the Space Station for NASA, gave a new name to its spacecraft for crewed missions just last week, calling it the CST-100 Starliner. The Starliner is designed to carry seven astronauts, and is expected to make its first flight to the ISS in 2017.
“Step inside Crew Dragon,” SpaceX invited on a new page of its website on Sept. 10.
“Dragon made history in 2012 when it became the first commercial uncrewed spacecraft to deliver cargo to the space station,” SpaceX wrote on its website. “But Dragon was also designed from the beginning to carry people, and today SpaceX is finalizing the necessary refinements to make that a reality.”
The first photos and video of Crew Dragon’s interior, published Thursday, show a modern space with four windows, seats made of “highest-grade” carbon fiber and Alcantara cloth, plenty of displays to provide the crew with real-time info on the spacecraft’s situation, spacecraft’s escape system, environmental controls, and it’s ability to be controlled by the crew, by SpaceX teams on the ground, or even autonomously.
The spacecraft’s only punch of color other than from its windows is from the flat panel displays of the capsule’s forward-mounted control panel.
According to SpaceX, using the built-in Environmental Control and Life Support System (ECLSS), the astronauts on the Crew Dragon will be able to set the interior temperature to between 65 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. The capsule also has an advanced emergency escape system (which was tested in May), and all of its functions can be controlled both autonomously, by SpaceX’s mission control on Earth, or by astronauts on board.
Dragon is designed to be carried by the company’s Falcon 9 rocket to the International Space Station. The ultimate goal for the company is to go to Mars says SpaceX’s CEO, Elon Musk. To make it possible, the Dragon will also be equipped to be launched from SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy rocket, which is still in development.
Currently, an investigation to find the cause of an accident that had destroyed a Dragon spacecraft on June 28 has suspended the launches of Falcon 9. The cause of the accident was the failure of a faulty strut holding down a helium bottle in the rocket’s liquid oxygen tank, as indicated by a preliminary report by SpaceX on July 20.
Earlier this month, SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell commented that the next Falcon 9 launch is probably still 2-3 months away, as the company makes certain that its rockets are safe for flight.
As a result of dealing with getting Falcon 9 back up, SpaceX has deprioritized its Falcon Heavy development and postponed the rocket’s first test flight to the spring of 2016, most likely in a late-April, or early-May timeframe.
Earlier this year, SpaceX who had tested the Crew Dragon’s emergency escape system, is planning another abort test in 2017, preceded by a test flight without astronauts to the space station. Prior to SpaceX starts to fly operational missions to the orbiting outpost in the next two to three years, the company’s first Crew Dragon to fly with NASA astronauts aboard will follow the in-flight abort test.
You can watch the new Dragon interiors in a video released by the company below.