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Posted 31 May 2014 - 20:01
Posted 31 May 2014 - 20:14
Posted 01 June 2014 - 01:37
Additional upgrades include a SpaceX-designed and built ISS docking adapter, impact attenuating landing legs, and a more advanced version of the PICA-X (Phenolic Impregnated Carbon Ablator-X) heat shield for improved durability and performance. Dragon V2’s robust thermal protection system is capable of lunar missions, in addition to flights to and from Earth orbit.
Posted 01 June 2014 - 02:04
Posted 01 June 2014 - 02:47
Posted 01 June 2014 - 14:02
Posted 11 June 2014 - 05:31
First Crewed Dragon Flight to Orbit Will Carry NASA Astronauts
SpaceX Founder and Chief Designer Elon Musk said in an interview this evening that the version of the Dragon spacecraft designed to take humans into space initially will be tested in an automated mode, but the first time it carries people, they will be NASA astronauts.
Dragon was the center of attention at a SpaceX event tonight in Washington, DC. The company unveiled this version of the spacecraft -- Dragon V2 -- on May 29 at an event in California. Now it is D.C.'s turn to see, touch, and sit in the vehicle. It will be on display through tomorrow (June 11) at the Newseum, 555 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W.
The capsule can accommodate seven people. Though it seems cozy by most standards, the interior is more spacious than Russia's Soyuz spacecraft, which is currently used to transport International Space Station (ISS) crews. When asked about the cost for a Dragon capsule, Musk replied it was about $60 million, and the total cost including launch is $140 million. SpaceX has said for many years that the price to NASA for a Dragon flight is $140 million. When asked if that is the price or the cost, Musk said it was the cost. He pointed out that if NASA uses all seven seats, that calculates out to $20 million a seat, much less than what Russia charges for a seat on Soyuz (in the $60-70 million range). However, NASA is not planning to use all seven seats. The ISS was designed to accommodate only seven crew members in total -- three launched by Russia and four by the United States. Presumably NASA would use any extra volume for cargo.
Musk confirmed that Dragon can remain in orbit for many months and hence could also serve as an ISS "lifeboat." Even when the space shuttle was flying, only Russia's Soyuz spacecraft could remain on orbit for six months at a time and perform the lifeboat function, remaining attached to ISS as an escape route for the crew in case of an emergency. Musk actually said this evening that Dragon can remain on orbit indefinitely whether or not it is attached to the ISS. Soyuz's lifetime is limited by how long its fuel can withstand the cold. Russia decided long ago that six months was as long as Soyuz should stay in orbit and be expected to safely return crews to Earth.
Some of the companies competing for the commercial crew contract have indicated that initial orbital crewed flights may involve one crewperson from the company and another from NASA. Musk said tonight that SpaceX has no astronauts and the first crewed flight would be with NASA astronauts only. When asked when the first crewed flight would take place, therefore, Musk said that was NASA's call since it is the customer. He said little training is needed to fly aboard Dragon since it is entirely automated, including docking.
SpaceX's current version of Dragon, used for cargo flights to the ISS, berths with ISS rather than docks. In berthing, Dragon flies close to the ISS and then the ISS crew uses Canadarm2 to grapple Dragon and maneuver it onto a docking port. The reverse is done at the end of the mission. Berthing therefore requires a crew to be aboard. That is not a desirable situation for crewed flights, which may be sent to the ISS when it is unoccupied or if a crew is evacuating the ISS. Therefore this version of Dragon must be able to dock and undock instead, where no human intervention from the ISS side of the docking ring is required.
Unlike the cargo version of Dragon, which splashes down in the ocean, the Dragon V2 will return to land using parachutes and propulsive landing systems. The goal is to land at Cape Canaveral, FL, but Musk said initial landings may be at White Sands, NM until they are certain of the spacecraft's landing precision.
Posted 11 June 2014 - 19:27
Posted 07 August 2014 - 17:28
SpaceX Sets November, January Dates for Launch Abort Tests of Crew-capable Dragon
SAN DIEGO — Space Exploration Technologies Corp. will perform a pair of crucial launch abort tests beginning later this year for the crewed version of the Dragon space capsule central to the company’s bid to become NASA’s post-shuttle provider of astronaut transportation.
The Hawthorne, California-based company plans to conduct a pad abort test at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, in November, followed by an in-flight abort test from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California in January, Garrett Reisman, SpaceX Dragon Rider program manager, said here Aug. 6 at the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics Space 2014 conference.
In the pad-abort test, Dragon will be mounted to a mocked-up SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and use its hydrazine-fueled SuperDraco thrusters to boost itself up and away from the pad, as it might need to do in the event of a major problem just before or during liftoff. The in-flight test will attempt to repeat the feat at altitude.
If the schedule, announced Aug. 6, holds, SpaceX will complete the abort tests about a year later than it planned when the company signed its Commercial Crew Integrated Capabilities agreement with NASA in 2012. The pact, now worth $440 million, was one of three NASA awarded under the program’s third major phase. As in all previous phases, NASA’s commercial crew partners are paid for completing negotiated milestones. The two abort tests are worth a combined $60 million to SpaceX.
The fourth and final commercial crew award is now expected in late August or early September. The fixed-price deal, known as Commercial Crew Transportation Capability, will cover development and safety certification of at least one commercially designed system. The deal will also cover the selected providers’ first round-trip astronaut flight to the international space station.
Posted 09 August 2014 - 05:35
Posted 01 September 2014 - 19:54
Posted 19 December 2014 - 18:33
December 19, 2014
SpaceX Completes First Milestone for Commercial Crew Transportation System
Commercial Crew Transportation. The Mission is in Sight.
NASA has approved the completion of SpaceX’s first milestone in the company’s path toward launching crews to the International Space Station (ISS) from U.S. soil under a Commercial Crew Transportation Capability (CCtCap) contract with the agency.
During the Certification Baseline Review, SpaceX described its current design baseline including how the company plans to manufacture its Crew Dragon spacecraft and Falcon 9 v.1.1 rocket, then launch, fly, land and recover the crew. The company also outlined how it will achieve NASA certification of its system to enable transport of crews to and from the space station.
“This milestone sets the pace for the rigorous work ahead as SpaceX meets the certification requirements outlined in our contract,” said Kathy Lueders, manager of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. “It is very exciting to see SpaceX's proposed path to certification, including a flight test phase and completion of the system development.”
On Sept. 16, the agency unveiled its selection of SpaceX and Boeing to transport U.S. crews to and from the space station using their Crew Dragon and CST-100 spacecraft, respectively. These contracts will end the nation’s sole reliance on Russia and allow the station’s current crew of six to increase, enabling more research aboard the unique microgravity laboratory.
Under the CCtCap contracts, the companies will complete NASA certification of their human space transportation systems, including a crewed flight test with at least one NASA astronaut aboard, to verify the fully integrated rocket and spacecraft system can launch from the United States, maneuver in orbit, and dock to the space station, and validate its systems perform as expected.
Throughout the next few years, SpaceX will test its systems, materials and concept of operations to the limits to prove they are safe to transport astronauts to the station. Once certified, the Crew Dragon spacecraft and Falcon 9 v1.1 rocket will be processed and integrated inside a new hangar before being rolled out for launch. This will all take place at the historic Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
The Crew Dragon is expected to be able to dock to the station for up to 210 days and serve as a 24-hour safe haven during an emergency in space.
“SpaceX designed the Dragon spacecraft with the ultimate goal of transporting people to space,” said Gwynne Shotwell, SpaceX President and Chief Operating Officer. “Successful completion of the Certification Baseline Review represents a critical step in that effort—we applaud our team’s hard work to date and look forward to helping NASA return the transport of U.S. astronauts to American soil.”
By expanding the station crew size and enabling private companies to handle launches to low-Earth orbit -- a region NASA has been visiting since 1962 -- the nation's space agency can focus on getting the most research and experience out of America's investment in ISS. NASA also can expand its focus to develop the Space Launch System and Orion capsule for missions in the proving ground of deep space beyond the moon to advance the skills and techniques that will enable humans to explore Mars.
Posted 19 December 2014 - 22:16