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SpaceX Shows Off 7-Man Dragon V2 Capsule 140

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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  • Re:PR (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 31, 2014 @06:23PM (#47138157)

    The Shuttle was awesome. Just not from a cost or safety perspective. It had a freakin' robotic arm in the payload bay and pretty decent upmass to LEO.

    The Russians own half the modules on the ISS, and they've threatened to detach them from the ISS after 2020; the ISS won't function without both the Russian and American modules. Not much good being able to fly to a non-functional station.

    Given the state of our space program and space program funding, it would probably take another 15 years and hundreds of billions of dollars to build a new space station to replace the ISS -- whether it's in 2020 (the current termination date) or 2024 (the proposed extension date).

  • Re:Flimsy (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Jarik C-Bol ( 894741 ) on Saturday May 31, 2014 @06:43PM (#47138237)
    That was my first thought. Try using your iPad with any accuracy while falling down a flight of stairs in a barrel, and you have an idea of how idiotic touch screen only controls are for spaceflight if anything at all goes wrong.
  • by jamstar7 ( 694492 ) on Saturday May 31, 2014 @08:47PM (#47138673)

    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.

    OK, keep in mind orbital parameters. The ISS's orbit was specifically placed the way it was to allow the Russians to get to it with ease. It's on a steep incline that takes orbital corrections to manuver to from any other launch site than Baikanour. It passes directly over Canaveral occasionally, but the delta-v required to do a one shot insertion orbit to ISS from Canaveral is expensive. That's why the Shuttle was downrated for ISS missions in payload and duration.

    Shuttle was also a hell of a lot more complicated than a Soyuz capsule. It's like comparing a Prius to a Model T. Soyuz was designed for no-frills get them to orbit. Shuttle was designed to get a shitpile of cargo to orbit along with the crew and the gear to operate independently of anything once there. Think of it more like a spacegoing Winnebago.

  • Re:1960s? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Teancum ( 67324 ) <[ten.orezten] [ta] [gninroh_trebor]> on Saturday May 31, 2014 @10:50PM (#47139131) Homepage Journal

    You also can't ignore the Skylab 2, 3, & 4 missions that all used Apollo hardware as well as the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project (something that arguably paved the way for the ISS in terms of cooperation between the Soviet Space Agency and NASA). All of those missions also flew in the 1970's.

    It is a pity that the manned mission to Venus never happened, which was also supposed to use Apollo hardware and something very similar to Skylab for extended mission resources. It could have happened for the price of a single shuttle mission too.

  • Re: 1960s? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by WindBourne ( 631190 ) on Saturday May 31, 2014 @11:02PM (#47139175) Journal
    The interesting thing is NOT that 4 companies are building access to space. The interesting thing is that space is doing it for a fraction of what gov does. For example, Russia charges 70 million / seat. But spaceX will charge 20 million. In addition, once f9r and dragon rider are landing on land, then cost will drop to 10-15 million . IOW, private space is making the moon and mars possible.

Logic is the chastity belt of the mind!