Tuesday, September 16, 2008

SpaceX at Google's Zeitgeist 2008

A capsule from SpaceX appeared at the Googleplex today. Here's a couple of pictures. Rumor has it that SpaceX founder Elon Musk will show up at Zeitgeist and talk about private initiative and space exploration. Given the company boasts the world's lowest cost flight to orbit he'll likely receive some attention from the audience. The capsule on these pictures is codenamed Dragon. At first glance the hatch hinges and rubber rings seem a bit weak, but this being a prototype, I am sure it'll change eventually. Here are some of the highlights of the capsule:

  • Fully autonomous rendezvous and docking with manual override capability in crewed configuration
  • Pressurized Cargo/Crew capacity of >2500 kg and 14 cubic meters
  • Down-cargo capability (equal to up-cargo)
  • Supports up to 7 passengers in Crew configuration
  • Two-fault tolerant avionics system with extensive heritage
  • Reaction control system with 18 MMH/NTO thrusters designed and built in-house; these thrusters are used for both attitude control and orbital maneuvering
  • 1200 kg of propellant supports a safe mission profile from sub-orbital insertion to ISS rendezvous to reentry
  • Integral common berthing mechanism, with LIDS or APAS support if required
  • Designed for water landing under parachute for ocean recovery
  • Lifting re-entry for landing precision & low-g’s
  • Ablative, high-performance heat shield and sidewall thermal protection
The current plan calls for a full long-duration system check-out in 2009. Dragon will perform approach, rendezvous, and breakaway operations with the Falcon 9 upper stage simulating an Interantional Space Station rendezvous.




Further info on http://www.spacex.com/

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