Sunday, March 18, 2012

South Africa's Rocket Man Elon Musk Prepares For Manned Space Flight

Enter the Dragon, Please Take Your Seats

SpaceX Completes Important Commercial Crew Milestone
SpaceX continues to prepare for our upcoming test flight in which we will attempt to send the Dragon spacecraft to the International Space Station. At the same time we continue making rapid progress in our efforts to prepare the Dragon spacecraft to carry astronauts.
You may have read our update on the initial tests of the SuperDraco engines that will power the launch escape system. Recently, SpaceX completed another important milestone – the first NASA Crew Trial, one of two crew tests as part of SpaceX’s work to build a prototype Dragon crew cabin.
For this milestone SpaceX demonstrated that our new crew cabin design will work well for astronauts in both nominal and off-nominal scenarios. It also provided our engineers with the opportunity to gain valuable feedback from both NASA astronauts and industry experts.

SpaceX and NASA conducted a daylong review of the Dragon crew vehicle layout using the Dragon engineering model equipped
with seats and representations of crew systems. Photo: SpaceX

The engineering prototype includes seven seats as well as representations of crew accommodations such as lighting, environmental control and life support systems, displays, cargo racks, and other interior systems. During the daylong test, SpaceX and NASA evaluators including four NASA astronauts, participated in human factors assessments which covered entering and exiting Dragon under both normal and contingency cases, as well as reach and visibility evaluations.

Test crew included (from top left): NASA Crew Survival Engineering Team Lead Dustin Gohmert, NASA Astronaut Tony Antonelli, NASA Astronaut Lee Archambault, SpaceX Mission Operations Engineer Laura Crabtree, SpaceX Thermal Engineer Brenda Hernandez, NASA Astronaut Rex Walheim, and NASA Astronaut Tim Kopra. Photo: Roger Gilbertson / SpaceX

The seven seats mount to strong, lightweight supporting structures attached to the pressure vessel walls. Each seat can hold an adult up to 6 feet 5 inches tall, 250 lbs, and has a liner that is custom-fit for the crewmember.

With all seven crewmembers in their seats, Dragon has sufficient interior space for three additional people to stand and assist
the crew with their launch preparations.


NASA Astronaut Rex Walheim, SpaceX CEO and Chief Designer Elon Musk and SpaceX Commercial Crew Development Manager
and former NASA Astronaut Garrett Reisman standing inside the Dragon spacecraft during testing activities.

In fact, Dragon has so much interior volume, that we could place an entire three-person Russian Soyuz capsule descent module inside Dragon’s pressure vessel.

SpaceX Featured on 60 Minutes
This Sunday, March 18th, SpaceX will be featured on CBS' 60 Minutes television program.  Click here to preview the final piece and in the US, check your local listings for air times.
Stay tuned for more updates as we work towards making Dragon the most advanced spacecraft ever flown.

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