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SpaceX Shows Off 7-Man Dragon V2 Capsule 140

Posted by timothy
from the yes-please dept.
As promised, SpaceX has unveiled its design for a 7-passenger space capsule, intended for carrying astronauts to the International Station or other missions. Writes the L.A. Times: "SpaceX's Dragon V2 spacecraft looks like a sleek, modern-day version of the Apollo capsules that astronauts used in trips to the moon in the 1960s. Those capsules splashed down in the ocean and couldn't be reused. SpaceX builds its Dragon capsules and Falcon 9 rockets in a vast complex in Hawthorne, where fuselage sections for Boeing's 747 jumbo jets once were built. The company is expanding its complex, near Los Angeles International Airport, and has more than 3,000 employees."

NBC News offers more pictures and description of what conditions aboard the Dragon would be like, while astronaut Chris Hadfield says that for all its good points, the Dragon won't eliminate the need for international cooperation in space: "The United States cannot fly to the Space Station without Russia, and Russia can't fly to the Space Station without the United States. It's a wonderful thing to have. If you look at the whole life of the Space Station, think of all the tumult, with the fall of the Soviet Union, and the devaluation of the Ruble in 1998, and other countries backing out of it, the Columbia accident, which would have left us completely helpless if we hadn't had the international commitment. It's easy to have a one-month attention span, but that's just not how you build spaceships, or how you explore the rest of the universe."
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SpaceX Shows Off 7-Man Dragon V2 Capsule

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  • by saloomy (2817221) on Saturday May 31, 2014 @05:34PM (#47137905)
    That spacex doesn't provide to ferry humans up to the IIS? Why do they still need the Russians to get up there?
  • But... but... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Jane Q. Public (1010737) on Saturday May 31, 2014 @05:57PM (#47138007)
    You know, international cooperation can be a wonderful and mutually-rewarding thing.

    But relying on it, or even worse: having to rely on it, for space exploration (which has strategic value) is not just not smart but kind of insane.

    It's kind of like when the military was buying chips from China:, a little bit crazy, and a lot stupid.

    But that's Government for you.
  • Translation (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fnj (64210) on Saturday May 31, 2014 @06:56PM (#47138279)

    Hadfield: "The United States cannot fly to the Space Station without Russia, and Russia can't fly to the Space Station without the United States."

    Really means: "As a starry-eyed utopist, I don't WANT the United States to be able to fly to the Space Station without Russia, and I don't WANT Russia to be able to fly to the Space Station without the United States."

    Why stop there, Hadfield? Why not make it impossible to do without the cooperation of China, India, Africa, South America and the other 90+% of the world, too? Because it doesn't just take a village; it takes a whole world to do anything.

    Poppycock. Russia doesn't need the US to enable it to do a damn thing. And if/once the US gets its head out of its ass, it won't be abjectly dependent on Russia either. And the EU is there too, albeit not manned capability yet, and China and India are coming along rapidly too. And that is a good thing. The less you depend on a single gigantic tower of babel to accomplish everything, the better. That doesn't mean a desire for conflict. It means a desire for a rich flowering variety of innovating independent enterprises, because that is how you get redundancy.

    The star trek universe of a brotherhood of peoples is a siren song of what we (some of us) believe can be, and want to be, But man, it is not held together by everyone believing they NEED everyone else to accomplish anything. It is held together by everyone WANTING to collaborate with everyone else to mutual benefit. The Earth guys still have their own starship design, as do the Klingons, the Cardassians, and yes, even the Ferengi and the Romulans. The only way you can get into the brotherhood is to first prove you're good enough to Do Stuff yourself.

  • by Flytrap (939609) on Saturday May 31, 2014 @07:11PM (#47138325)

    Maybe the small matter of getting the thing into space using a rocket engine is why they still need the Russians.

    The most powerful rocket engines are made by the Russians... and the US buys several a year to launch its biggest payloads into space (http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/us-military-national-security-agencies-vexed-by-dependence-on-russian-rocket-engines/2014/05/30/19822e40-e6c0-11e3-8f90-73e071f3d637_story.html)

    SpaceX is developing some pretty powerful launchers, but until they can match the power and reliability of the Russian RD-180, I don't think that NASA or the Pentagon (who are the biggest buyers of the RD-180) will be turning their backs on Russian engines.

    From the linked article: "Long-term U.S. plans to produce a domestic cousin to the RD-180 never got off the ground. The aerospace sector discovered that it was comfortable with the workhorse Russian engines when it came time to launch sensitive missions like spy satellites. The Atlas V rocket has made more than 50 consecutive successful launches using the RD-180. NASA and other government agencies rely on the Atlas V for some of their scientific payloads."

    I have no doubt that the Dragon capsule will live up to its billing... So far, Elon Musk and SpaceX exceeded expectations on virtually everything. But, until then, the rickety, but dependable Russian Soyuz will continue to be the preferred choice of most astronauts for getting to and from the space station.

    However, the real reasons that astronauts like Chris Hadfield et al think that the Russian Soyuz will be hard to replace are hard to fit into a single post.

    • Consider, for instance, that the Soyuz TMA-M can hang around the space station for 6 months, and be ready for use to return astronauts safely back to Earth, without a maintenance crew having to go and check every nut and bolt - a feat that even the Space Shuttle could never muster (for the record, the Space Shuttle had a mission duration of about 12 days - a few Columbia missions went up to 16/17 days).
    • Another example is that it takes the Soyuz just 6 hours to go from launch to docking with the space station (for comparison, it took the space shuttle almost 3 days to reach the space station after launch).
    • There are many other little things like these that are not cool or sexy, but make the ruthless efficiency and effectiveness with which the Soyuz executes and fulfils its purpose is second to none. It will take a lot more than a larger tin-can and a more comfortable ride to convince astronauts to put their lives in SpaceX's hands.
  • Re: 1960s? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by WindBourne (631190) on Sunday June 01, 2014 @10:19AM (#47140847) Journal
    So, spaceX is a welfare queen. Hmmm.
    We have invested less than 1B into SpaceX via COTS. In return, America now has a launch system that is the cheapest in the world. In addition, the company now employes 3000+ ppl, and will launch the Falcon heavy in less than 12 months, and it will be the worlds largest biggest launcher (again, the cheapest).
    Now, we have invested less than .5B into them for a human launcher. Note that we have already paid Russia over 1.5B to Launch to the ISS, and for the next 2 years, will pay more than .5B. IOW, we are funding Russia's space launches, while ppl like you scream that we are spending too much on our own private companies.

    Finally, as to innovation, you are right that they were not innovative. However, they are the now the first group that has ever successfully brought down a stage to the earth without it being destroyed (the ocean destroyed it AFTER it 'landed'). The Dragon is loaded with a number of new innovations that go well beyond anything ever done. At this time, SpaceX is ahead of the game and now rates as one of the most innovative space groups going.

    And you will note that NONE of that includes raptor or MCT, or the X-over on FH.

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