SpaceX Dragon 2.0 looks like 'alien spaceship,' says Elon Musk

November 13, 2016 – 12:51 pm

SpaceX

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. The plan is part of SpaceX's vision for a completely reusable rocket and spacecraft.

The next version of the Dragon spacecraft built by the private spaceflight company SpaceX will look like something truly out of this world, according to Elon Musk, the company's billionaire founder and CEO.

Musk detailed some of the high points of the firm's much-anticipated Dragon Version 2 to reporters Thursday during a briefing with NASA to celebrate the firm's second successful cargo mission to the International Space Station. SpaceX's unmanned Dragon capsule returned to Earth Tuesday with a successful splashdown in the Pacific Ocean.

But according to Musk, Dragon Version 2 landings won't be so … wet. But it may look weird.

"There are side-mounted thruster pods and quite big windows for astronauts to see out, " Musk told SPACE.com. "There are also legs to pop out at the bottom. It looks like a real alien spaceship." [The Rockets and Spaceships of SpaceX (Photo Gallery)]

Those pop out legs, Musk added, will be for land touchdowns.

Musk is designing the capsule in the hopes that it will make its landings back on Earth, not at sea. The current Dragon space capsule design can only land in water, but Musk said he wants to "push the envelope" with the spacecraft's next incarnation, be it for manned or unmanned flights.

Musk is expected to unveil the design sometime later this year.

Meanwhile, SpaceX is already experimenting with land landings using its Grasshopper rocket, a prototype for a completely reusable launch system that has made several test flights — each higher than the last — none of which were aimed at reaching space.

Dragon isn't the only member of the SpaceX fleet getting an upgrade. The company's Falcon 9 rocket is also going to be retooled for more efficiency with 60 or 70 percent greater capacity and 60 percent more powerful thrusters, Musk added.

Private cargo ship success
SpaceX's most recent Dragon mission ended after three weeks attached to the orbiting laboratory. The capsule splashed down in the Pacific Ocean about 214 miles off the coast of Baja California to return about 2, 670 pounds 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.

Recovery boats approach Dragon after splashdown into the Pacific Ocean on March 26, 2013. Dragon returned from the International Space Station.


Source: science.nbcnews.com

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