SpaceX's Dragon Capsule 2.0 Looks Like 'Alien Spaceship,' Elon Musk Says

September 17, 2016 – 09:55 pm

This still from a SpaceX video shows the company's Dragon space capsule firing thrusters during a powered descent as it aims for a vertical landing at its launch site.Recovery boats approach Dragon after splashdown into the Pacific Ocean on March 26, 2013. Dragon returned from the International Space Station.
Credit: SpaceX

Private cargo ship success

SpaceX's most recent Dragon mission ended after three weeks attached to the orbiting laboratory. The capsule splashed downin the Pacific Ocean about 214 miles (344 kilometers) off the coast of Baja California to return about 2, 670 pounds (1, 210 kg) science gear and back to Earth.

The Hawthorne, Calif.-based SpaceX has a $1.6 billion deal with NASA to fly a dozen cargo missions like the one that just ended. The company's fourth launch is scheduled for the end of September.

During its mission, Dragon returned time-sensitive science experiments that were successfully delivered to NASA on time once it arrived on dry land, according to SpaceX president Gwynne Shotwell. Among the experiments were plants grown on station and new alloy mixtures that could help improve metal strength on the ground, International Space Station program scientist Julie Robinson said.

Dragon Capsule Recovery NASA also has a commercial resupply contract with Orbital Sciences Corp., a .9 billion deal for at least eight unmanned cargo missions with the Virginia-based company's Antares rocket and Cygnus capsule.

Orbital Sciences Corp. is on schedule to launch a test flight of its rocket in mid-April.

Astronaut space taxis ahead

The retirement of NASA's space shuttle fleet in 2011 leaves the space agency dependent on Russia's Soyuz spacecraft to ferry astronaut crews to and from the space station. Once private space taxis become available, NASA hopes to use them to launch American astronauts on trips to the station.

SpaceX is one of four companies currently competing for the NASA crew launch contract. The manned version of SpaceX's capsule should carry seven astronauts into low-Earth orbit, and the company is scheduled to make another step towards the development of a crewed capsule later this year.

NASA and SpaceX are planning to stage a "pad abort test" to gauge the functionality of the company's "launch abort system" that would need to be in place before a crewed mission can take place, Musk said.


Source: www.space.com

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