SpaceX boss Elon Musk has unveiled the latest design for the reusable Dragon spacecraft, which can ferry up to seven passengers to and from Earth orbit.
Tweeted with the caption “A new view for crew”, an image of the updated design shows a futuristic glass bubble canopy fitted to the spacecraft, allowing a unique 360º view of the stars.
The new design uses the space where the spacecraft’s docking adaptor would normally sit, because it’s intended not for missions to the ISS but for Inspiration4, a mission planned for September 15 that will take Shift4 Payments CEO Jared Isaacman, and three other civilian astronauts to space .
Musk boasted that the new design would offer the most ‘in space’ experience any astronaut would have.
NASA spokesman Josh Finch told The Verge that the agency doesn’t have any plans to fly the modified version of the Crew Dragon.
“As a fully commercial launch,” he said, “NASA does not need to approve SpaceX’s design for the company’s private missions. NASA will continue to maintain insight into SpaceX’s systems through our normal work, including SpaceX sharing flight data from non-NASA missions.”
Benji Reed, SpaceX’s director of Crew Dragon mission management, told a press conference on Tuesday: “We’ve done all the engineering work, we continue to go through all the analysis and testing and qualification to ensure everything’s safe, and that it doesn’t preclude any use of this spacecraft for other missions,”
The capsule stands just under 28 feet tall, and can carry over 13,000 lbs of crew an cargo into orbit.
In 2020, private contractors SpaceX restored America’s space launch capability. For the previous nine years NASA had depended on Russian space agency hardware to get its crews to and from the International Space Station.
During its maiden flight in December 2010, Dragon became the first commercially built and operated spacecraft to be recovered successfully from orbit.
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