On Thursday Elon Musk, Chief Executive of Space Exploration Technologies Corporation (SpaceX), revealed the “Dragon Version 2,” the newest addition to the company’s space craft family. The reveal took place at the SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, California. This will be a memorable moment in the company’s history as the Dragon V2 is the first spacecraft that can take humans to the International Space Station and then bring them back to Earth. Musk described the creation of the spacecraft as a “big leap forward in technology.”
Unlike the older models, Dragon Version 2 is fully reusable after returning from space. It can carry up to seven astronauts, traveling for several days and, according to Musk, the landing will be as accurate as that of a helicopter. The Dragon V2 contains two Superdraco engines which provides a safe landing of the spacecraft. Although only one engine is necessary, a second was installed to serve as a back-up and in case both fail a parachute will deploy, allowing the astronauts to safely float back to Earth.
SpaceX was the first private company that was successful with having their space craft, the Dragon space capsule, return fully intact after being launched into orbit in 2011. Since then then the craft has delivered cargo to the International Space Station several times.
Dmitry Rogozin, Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister, recently stated that Russia will not be using their Soyuz aircraft beyond 2020, which is the only method American astronauts currently have to travel back and forth to the International Space Station. The U.S. has not had its own space shuttle program since 2011, as it was too expensive to maintain, costing $1.7 million to build the machines and $450 million for every launch. The cost of traveling to space did not become much cheaper as NASA had no other option except to purchase spaces on Russia’s Souyz at $75 million for each seat.
In 2010 President Barack Obama was an advocate for the expansion of space industries. He stated that his goal was for the U.S. to “reach space faster and more often.” In hopes of eliminating the dependability on foreign countries, NASA’s Commercial Crew Development program has spent hundreds of millions of dollars in funding American companies to create space crafts and rockets that can be launched into space. SpaceX has a $1.6 billion contract with NASA. As a part of this contract, the company will launch at least 12 cargo missions to the International Space Station. SpaceX has plans to have crew aboard missions in the near future, and is now one step closer with the creation of the Dragon V2.
Elon Musk is a billionaire entrepreneur who is also the founder of the electric car company Tesla. He established SpaceX in 2002 with big dreams. The company’s mission is to “revolutionize space technology,” and provide a way for humans to live on other planets. In moving toward accomplishing its goal, SpaceX is a designer and manufacturer of space crafts and rockets and also launches its products. The “fire breathing,” Dragon Version 2 which is 15 feet tall, is anticipated to make its first crewed flight by the end of 2016.
By: Sarah Temori