The Dragon V2 stands on a stage inside SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, Calif., after its unveiling.
|Role||Placing humans and cargo into Low Earth orbit (commercial use)
and ISS commercial taxi CCtCap (governmental use), space colonization (planned)
|Crew||7 (max. capacity)|
|Launch vehicle||Falcon 9 v1.1|
|Height||6.1 meters (20 feet)|
|Diameter||3.7 meters (12.1 feet)|
|Sidewall angle||15 degrees|
|Volume||10 m3 (350 cu ft) pressurized
14 m3 (490 cu ft) unpressurized
|Dry mass||about 4,200 kg (9,300 lb)|
|Payload||to ISS 3,310 kg (7,300 lb). It can return to Earth up to 2,500 kg (5,500 lb) |
|Endurance||1 week to 2 years|
|Re-entry at||3.5 Gs|
|Thrusters||8 x SuperDraco in four pods for launch abort and landing
and 18 in-space maneuvering Draco thrusters.
Dragon V2 is the second version of the SpaceX Dragon spacecraft which will be a human-rated vehicle capable of making a terrestrial soft landing. It will include a set of eight much-larger side-mounted thruster pods which can serve as a Launch Abort System (LAS) or be used for propulsive landings, as well as much larger windows, landing legs which extend from the bottom of the spacecraft, new computers and avionics, and redesigned solar arrays, all packaged in a spacecraft with a changed outer mold line from the initial cargo Dragon that has been flying for several years.
The spacecraft was unveiled on May 29, 2014—after originally being expected to be unveiled in 2013 —a crew-carrying variant of Dragon that varies considerably from the cargo-carrying Dragon, which has been operational since 2010. Dragon V2 could make its first flight as early as late 2015, with its first flight with people as early as 2016. A launch pad abort test of Dragon V2 was planned for 2014, but has since slipped into early 2015.
Dragon V2 development history
The crewed variant of Dragon was initially called DragonRider. It was intended from the beginning to support a crew of seven or a combination of crew and cargo. It was planned to be able to perform fully autonomous rendezvous and docking with manual override capability; and was designed to use the NASA Docking System (NDS) to dock to the ISS. For typical missions, DragonRider would remain docked to the ISS for a period of 180 days, but would be designed to be able to do so for 210 days, the same as the Russian Soyuz spacecraft. From the earliest design concepts which were publicly released in 2010, SpaceX planned to use an integrated pusher launch escape system for the Dragon spacecraft, claiming several advantages over the tractor detachable tower approach used on most prior crewed spacecraft. These advantages include the provision for crew escape all the way to orbit, reusability of the escape system, improved crew safety due to the elimination of a stage separation, and the ability to use the escape engines during the landing phase for a precise solid earth landing of the Dragon capsule. An emergency parachute system will be retained as a redundant backup for water landings.
As of 2011[update], the Paragon Space Development Corporation was assisting in the development of DragonRider's life support system. In 2012, SpaceX was in talks with Orbital Outfitters regarding the development of a spacesuit that would be worn during launch and re-entry.
At a NASA news conference on 18 May 2012, SpaceX confirmed again that their target launch price for crewed Dragon flights is $160,000,000, or $20,000,000 per seat if the maximum crew of 7 is aboard, and if NASA orders at least four DragonRider flights per year. This contrasts with the 2014 Soyuz launch price of $76,000,000 per seat for NASA astronauts.
NASA selected the Dragon spacecraft as one of the candidates to fly American astronauts to the International Space Station under the Commercial Crew Program. SpaceX plans to use the Falcon 9 launch vehicle for the Dragon.
- Reuses: fully reusable; capable of being flown multiple times, resulting in a significant reduction in the cost of access to space. SpaceX anticipates on the order of ten flights are possible before significant refurbishment of the space vehicle would be required.
- Capacity: capable of carrying seven astronauts
- Landing: supports both propulsive-landing "almost anywhere in the world" with the accuracy of a helicopter, plus a backup parachute-enabled landing capability. Four extensible landing legs
- Engines: eight side-mounted SuperDraco engines, clustered in redundant pairs in four engine pods, with each engine capable of producing 71 kilonewtons (16,000 lbf) of thrust
- the first fully printed 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 in the event of an engine failure.
- Docking: capable of autonomous docking to space stations. Dragon V1 utilized berthing, a non-autonomous method of attachment to the ISS that was completed by use of the Canadarm robotic arm. Pilot capability to park the spacecraft using manual controls if necessary
- Reservoirs: composite-carbon-overwrap titanium spherical tanks for holding the helium used for engine pressurization and also for the SuperDraco fuel and oxidizer
- Shield: updated third-generation PICA-X heat shield
- Controls: tablet-like computer that swivels down for optional crew control by the pilot and co-pilot
- Interior design: tan leather seats
- a reusable nose cone which can pivot on a hinge to enable in-space docking, while returning to the covered position for reentry and future launches
The landing system is being designed to accommodate three types of landing scenarios:
- propulsive landing
- parachute landing, similar to previous American manned space capsules
- parachute landing with propulsive assist, similar to that used by the Soyuz (spacecraft)
"The whole landing system is designed so that it’s survivable if there’s no propulsive assist at all. So if you come down chutes only with the landing legs, we anticipate no crew injury. It’ll be kind of like landing in the Soyuz."
Planned space transport missions
Dragon has been designed to fulfill a set of mission requirements that will make the capsule useful to both commercial and governmental customers. SpaceX and Bigelow Aerospace are working together to support round-trip carrying of commercial passengers to low-Earth orbit (LEO) destinations such as the planned Bigelow Commercial Space Station. In that use, the full passenger-carrying capacity of seven passengers is planned to be used.
In an August 2014 presentation, SpaceX revealed that if NASA chooses to use the Dragon V2 space capsule under a Commercial Crew Transportation Capability contract, then only four of the seven possible seats would be used for carrying NASA-designated passengers to the ISS, as NASA would like to utilize the additional payload mass and volume capability to carry pressurized cargo. In addition, all NASA landings of Dragon V2 are planned to initially use the propulsive deceleration capability of the Super Draco engines only for a propulsive assist right before final touchdown, and would otherwise use parachutes "all the way down."
On September 16, 2014, NASA announced that SpaceX, together with Boeing, has been selected to provide crew transportation capability to ISS. SpaceX will receive $2.6 billion under this contract. NASA considers the Dragon as the cheapest proposal.
According to Elon Musk in a question and answer session at the May 29, 2014 unveiling of the Dragon V2, Dragon V1 will be used in tandem with Dragon V2 as a cargo ferry for coming years.
SpaceX is planning a program for the Dragon V2 that will include both a "Pad abort" flight test, and an in-flight abort test.
In August 2014, it was announced that the pad abort test was planned to take place in Florida, at SpaceX's leased pad at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station Space Launch Complex 40 in November 2014, but on 26 January 2015, it was announced that it would happen "in the next month or so.". While a flight-like Dragon V2 and trunk will be used for the pad abort test, they will rest atop a truss structure for the test rather than a full Falcon 9 rocket. A crash test dummy will be placed inside the test vehicle to record acceleration loads and forces at the crew seat. The test objective will be to demonstrate sufficient total impulse, thrust and controllability to conduct a safe pad abort.
The in-flight abort test is, as of January 2015[update], planned to take place in March of 2015 at SpaceX' California leased launch pad at Vandenberg AFB Space Launch Complex 4E. The test will utilize a Falcon 9 launch vehicle to ascend and accelerate the capsule into the troposphere where the abort will occur in the transonic velocity region at the point of "Maximum Dynamic Pressure". The test objective is to demonstrate the ability to safely get away from the ascending rocket under the most difficult atmospheric conditions of the flight trajectory.
SpaceX plans to launch an uncrewed test flight using the company's Falcon 9 rocket in late 2016, with its first crewed mission using the launch system coming shortly after that, in early 2017.
- CST-100, a capsule crew-carrying spacecraft being developed by Boeing
- Prospective Piloted Transport System - a new-generation, reusable capsule, manned spacecraft currently under development in Russia.
- Dream Chaser, a spaceplane being developed by Sierra Nevada Corporation
- Blue Origin orbital spacecraft – an American private biconic nose cone design vehicle
- Orion (spacecraft), a spacecraft being built for NASA by Lockheed Martin
- Automated Transfer Vehicle – a single-use, expendable cargo vehicle currently in use by the ESA
- Crew Exploration Vehicle
- Private spaceflight
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