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Saturday, March 17, 2012

SpaceX Makes Progress on Manned Capsule

Sure looks like 7 astronauts could fit in there!

SpaceX, creator of the Dragon spacecraft and Falcon rocket systems, continues to engineer a manned version of their Dragon cargo spacecraft. In the photo above, courtesy SpaceX, seven NASA engineers, astronauts, and SpaceX engineers worked out crew space requirements in an engineering model of the future Dragon Capsule. This crew trial is one of two important crew tests in the development of SpaceX's entry in the Commercial Crew Development race. Other companies competing to send astronauts to the ISS include Boeing, ATK, Lockheed (NASA Orion capsule) and several others.

What the Dragon cargo module will look like approaching the ISS. The Dragon crewed vehicle will look very similar.

SpaceX is preparing to launch their first official mission carrying cargo to the ISS in late April. With the hopeful success of that mission, SpaceX will begin contracted work to regularly deliver essential supplies and experiments to the ISS, and return valuable equipment to the Earth (which is not capable of any other current cargo craft).

NASA's own crewed capsule, Orion is currently in testing but is scheduled for a crewed launch in 2021, which seems a long ways from today. Will SpaceX beat NASA in their own game? Let's see how they do with their cargo mission next month, but I'm putting my money on SpaceX.

You can read more about SpaceX's crew testing on their site:

Mark Daymont
Space Center Educator
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