SpaceX, a company that has become a household name as of late, founded by Elon Musk, continues to amaze the general public with their innovations. One of their more talked about projects is the Dragon capsule. According to SpaceX, “[it] is a free-flying spacecraft designed to deliver both cargo and people to orbiting destinations.”
via SpaceX / A look at DragonLab, another SpaceX innovation.
A Brief History of Dragon
Dragon’s development started a little over a decade ago, in 2004. In 2006, SpaceX sent a proposal to NASA’s Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) demonstration program for all or part of the $500 million NASA planned to spend through 2010. By 2011, according to a statement by William H. Gerstenmaier, the Associate Administrator for Space Operations, “SpaceX completed 25 of 40 negotiated milestones for COTS work, thus receiving $298 million out of a potential $396 million, including augmented funding.” One of the completed milestones included Dragon’s first launch, and ultimately, its return back to Earth. In December 2010, the Dragon capsule returned to Earth via a water landing in the Pacific. This was historic as it was a breakthrough for privatizing the space industry, an initiative launched by President Obama.
The Future of Dragon
Since its inception, Dragon was intended to carry humans to space, however, currently, it has only carried cargo to space. Under a new agreement with NASA, it appears Dragon will fulfill its original purpose; according to the SpaceX website, they are “finalizing the necessary refinements to make [Dragon’s intended use] a reality.” Presently, SpaceX has stated that Dragon’s first manned test flight will occur in two to three years.
via SpaceX’s YouTube channel
|Height||6.1 metres (20 ft)|
|Diameter||3.7 metres (12 ft)|
|Sidewall angle||15 degrees|
|Volume||10 m3 (350 cu ft) pressurized
14 m3 (490 cu ft) unpressurized
34 m3 (1,200 cu ft) unpressurized with extended trunk
|Dry mass||4,200 kg (9,300 lb)|
|Payload||to ISS 3,310 kg (7,300 lb), which can be all pressurized, all unpressurized or anywhere between. It can return to Earth 3,310 kg (7,300 lb), which can be all unpressurized disposal mass or up to 2,500 kg (5,500 lb) of return pressurized cargo.|
|Endurance||1 week to 2 years|
Information gathered from the following sources: