Both vehicles have been partly funded by NASA and in the next few years should be ready to take astronauts to and from the International Space Station.
Judging by SpaceX’s just-released video, Crew Dragon’s astronauts will be traveling in style in a capsule that looks as comfortable as it does cutting edge.
The sleek black-and-white interior, which is a marked change from the Dragon V2 unveiled in May last year, is fitted with seven seats “made from the highest-grade carbon fiber and Alcantara cloth,” according to SpaceX, and incorporates four windows allowing the crew to take in the spectacular scenery.
Real-time information on the capsule’s position and destination comes via a bank of monitors, which also keep the crew informed of on-board environmental conditions. In order to make the journey as comfortable as possible, a climate-control system allows the space travelers to set the capsule’s temperature to anywhere between 65 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit (18 to 26 Celsius) as they hurtle toward the space station located some 200 miles above Earth.
Should a mission get into difficulty, help comes in the form of the Crew Dragon’s advanced emergency escape system that’s designed to quickly take those on board to safety. The SpaceX team tested it successfully in May (below).
The team behind the reusable capsule describes it as “a fully autonomous spacecraft that can also be monitored and controlled by on-board astronauts and SpaceX mission control in Hawthorne, CA.”
It’s also been designed with a propulsion system to enable it to land safely back on Earth, with SpaceX CEO Elon Musk saying last year it’ll be able to put down “anywhere on land with the accuracy of a helicopter.”
When they go into action possibly in 2017, Boeing’s spacecraft and SpaceX’s similarly designed capsule will mark the first time for private companies to take astronauts to the ISS, though for the SpaceX team it first means perfecting the Falcon 9 rocket that’ll take the vehicles into space.
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