July 13, 2012

SpaceX Completes Review Of Crew Version Of Dragon

Lee Rannals for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online

SpaceX completed a design review of the crew version of its Dragon spacecraft, which became the first commercial spacecraft to dock with the International Space Station in May.

The company's June 14 review provided details about each phase of a potential crewed mission. This included how the company plans to modify its launch pads to support these missions, the spacecraft's docking capabilities, the weight and power requirements for the spacecraft, and prospective ground landing sites and techniques.

"SpaceX has made significant progress on its crew transportation capabilities," NASA CCP Manager Ed Mango said in a press release. "We commend the SpaceX team on its diligence in meeting its CCDev2 goals to mature the company's technology as this nation continues to build a real capability for America's commercial spaceflight needs."

The SpaceX team presented NASA with the analysis of how its SuperDraco launch abort system would perform if an emergency occurred during launch or ascent.

NASA said the review also outlined plans for getting astronauts away from danger quickly and safely on the way to low Earth orbit.

"The successful conclusion of the concept baseline review places SpaceX exactly where we want to be -- ready to move on to the next phase and on target to fly people into space aboard Dragon by the middle of the decade," SpaceX CEO and Chief Designer Elon Musk said in a press release.

SpaceX is one of several companies working to develop crew transportation capabilities under the Commercial Crew Development Round 2 (CCDev2) agreement with NASA's Commercial Crew Program (CCP).

The space agency is helping the private sector develop and test new spacecraft and rockets with the goal of making commercial human spaceflight services available to commercial and government customers.

NASA is also developing the Orion spacecraft and Space Launch System (SLS), which is a crew capsule and heavy-lift rocket that will provide an entirely new capability for human space exploration.

These spacecraft are designed to be flexible for launching crew and cargo missions, and will help expand human presence beyond Earth and enable new missions of exploration throughout the solar system.