SpaceX Shares New Details On Its 'Crew Dragon' Spacecraft Designed for Human Spaceflight

Monday, 21 May 2018 - 6:50PM
Space
Technology
SpaceX
Monday, 21 May 2018 - 6:50PM
SpaceX Shares New Details On Its 'Crew Dragon' Spacecraft Designed for Human Spaceflight
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With everything SpaceX has done recently (several dozen successful rocket launches and a Tesla floating through space to show for it) they have two major goals they're still working toward.

Those goals are 1) launching a spacecraft with live astronauts inside, and 2) eventually launching those live astronauts off to Mars. The Mars objective is at least several years down the line in Elon Musk's most optimistic predictions, but the first objective is fast approaching. And Musk is showing off the spacecraft he intends to stick those astronauts inside.

Called the Crew Dragon, the spacecraft is a variant on their unmanned and already-in-use Dragon capsule that's used to transport cargo to the International Space Station. See it below:




This photo was taken while the Crew Dragon was being tested in NASA's Plum Brook vacuum chamber in Ohio, one of the largest in the world at 100 feet (30 meters) in diameter and 125 feet (38 meters) tall. The chamber, which simulates the vacuum of space fairly accurately, was designed to test out NASA's similar Orion spacecraft but is suitable for the Crew Dragon as well.

SpaceX is set to test a manned launch later this year with NASA, since the company is hoping to eventually send astronauts to the ISS on Falcon 9 rockets. But the eventual destination for the Crew Dragon is Mars - SpaceX could start testing out their Mars-ready BFR ("Big Falcon Rocket") with an attached Crew Capsule as early as next year, and Musk thinks the first unmanned flight to Mars could happen in 2022.

If those tests all work out well, their plan is to send humans to Mars inside a Crew Dragon by 2024. That's insanely optimistic, but SpaceX has a good enough track record so far that it's worth watching their progress here.




But that's still a few years in the future, and first the Crew Dragon has to finish these simple tests in a simulated vacuum. All the Mars stuff will come soon enough.

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