Image 1 - NASA Astronauts Check Out SpaceX Dragon Spacecraft
March 20, 2012

Astronauts Test Out SpaceX Dragon Capsule

NASA astronauts stepped into SpaceX Dragon capsule recently to get a feel for how the spacecraft might ride after long hours.

The group of astronauts and industry experts climbed inside the Dragon capsule and tested out positioning of displays and assessed how comfortable the spacecraft was.

“There are very important systems that need to be in place before you can put humans in a spacecraft,” Jon Cowart, NASA´s partner manager for SpaceX, said in a press release. “You´ve got to have the seats and the displays, of course. But you also have to have air circulation, and air conditioning and heating."

SpaceX's Dragon capsule is contracted to fly 12 cargo-only missions to the space station under NASA's Commercial Resupply Services Contract.

As part of this contract, SpaceX invited NASA to its plant to check out a prototype of the new capsule, which is equipped with seats, lighting, environmental controls, life support systems, displays, cargo racks, mock control panels and other interior systems.

During the review, the astronauts participated in what are known as human factor type assessments.  These assessments included entering and exiting Dragon under normal and emergency scenarios, as well as perform reach and visibility evaluations of displays and controls.

“With all seven crew members in their seats, Dragon has sufficient interior space for three other people to stand and assist the crew with their launch preparations,” SpaceX Commercial Crew Development Manager Garrett Reisman said in a press release.

SpaceX said the Dragon capsule's seats have a liner that could be custom-fitted for an individual crew member and could support an adult weighing up to 250 pounds, measuring 6-feet, 5-inches tall.

“We already know that the Dragon spacecraft can go into orbit and return safely,” Cowart said in the press release. “So, what we need to do is nurture SpaceX´s ability to put humans on board and return them safely as well.”


Image 1: NASA astronauts and industry experts check out the crew accommodations in SpaceX's Dragon spacecraft. On top, from left, are NASA Crew Survival Engineering Team Lead Dustin Gohmert, NASA astronauts Tony Antonelli and Lee Archambault, and SpaceX Mission Operations Engineer Laura Crabtree. On bottom, from left, are SpaceX Thermal Engineer Brenda Hernandez and NASA astronauts Rex Walheim and Tim Kopra. Image credit: SpaceX

Image 2: NASA astronaut Rex Walheim checks out SpaceX's Dragon spacecraft, which is under development for NASA's Commercial Crew Program. Image credit: SpaceX

Image 3: NASA astronauts and industry experts are monitored while they check out the crew accommodations in SpaceX's Dragon spacecraft, which is under development for NASA's Commercial Crew Program (CCP) Image credit: SpaceX