SpaceX head Elon Musk has unveiled the latest version of his Dragon spacecraft via a highly anticipated event at the SpaceX factory in California. Known as Dragon V2, the spacecraft is the crewed version of the ship that recently returned from its fourth trip to the International Space Station (ISS). This latest Dragon is the current favorite to win the right to return domestic crew launch independence to the United States.
With the Agency undergoing a major transition towards returning to Beyond Earth Orbit (BEO) exploration, the interim solution for launching NASA astronauts to the ISS was to pay Roscosmos large amounts of money for spare seats on the Russian Soyuz, thus allowing a continued US presence on the orbital laboratory.
The reality was a reduction in what was already a small part of NASA’s budget being spent on the Commercial Crew Program (CCP), resulting in what is now a gap that ranges as far as the end of 2017 before the debut launch of NASA astronauts on a commercial vehicle – a mission known as USCV-1 (US Crew Vehicle -1).
More money is expected to be handed over in the coming years, given Soyuz remains on the manifest even after the USCV-1 date, providing a near-back up role for the commercial vehicle.
Boeing’s CST-100 spacecraft recently showed off the interior that astronauts would look forward to ingressing ahead of rides to the Station.
The photos published by Boeing show a sci-fi/first class airliner interior that is a far cry from the even the much-loved Space Shuttle orbiters that CST-100 manager Chris Ferguson had the honor of riding inside.
Boeing has also been busy working the paperwork, with another milestone on the evaluation of the spacecraft’s software recently conducted via a CDR.
SNC have a real contender, with their Dream Chaser spacecraft removed from the commonality with the two capsule spacecraft she is in competition, which provides NASA managers with an interesting set of attractive alternatives to consider, including cross-range, multiple landing options.
You might also like:
NASA's Commercial Orbital Transportation Services: A New Era in Spaceflight - History of International Space Station (ISS) Cargo and Crew, SpaceX, Orbital Sciences, Bigelow
eBooks (Progressive Management)