Skip to main content

This is the glass dome on SpaceX’s new Crew Dragon capsule

SpaceX has shown off a key feature of a modified Crew Dragon spacecraft that will soon launch its first all-civilian crew to orbit.

The new design includes a glass dome that will offer the four-person crew panoramic views of Earth and beyond.

The first pictures (below) of the cupola appeared in a tweet on Wednesday, September 1. The photos show each of the crewmembers peering out from the dome ahead of its preflight integration with the spacecraft.

A look at Dragon’s Cupola, which will provide our Inspiration4 astronauts with incredible views of Earth from orbit!

The crew visited the flight-hardware Cupola in California before it was shipped to Florida for integration with Dragon Resilience.

— Inspiration4 (@inspiration4x) September 1, 2021

The Inspiration4 mission is expected to take place this month, though a specific date has yet to be announced.

The three-day space voyage was the idea of Shift4 Payments boss Jared Isaacman, who secured the mission in a private deal with SpaceX.

Isaacman is using the mission to help publicize the work of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee. He’s also been encouraging people to donate to the organization as it seeks to reach its funding target of $200 million.

The Inspiration4 mission will include three other crew members. Physician assistant Hayley Arceneaux will become the first bone cancer survivor to travel to space, and also the first person to head to orbit with a prosthetic body part (in Arceneaux’s case, prosthetic leg bones). And that’s not all. At 29, she’ll also become the youngest American to orbit Earth.

Trained pilot Dr. Sian Proctor is also part of the mission, as is Christopher Sembroski, a veteran of the U.S. Air Force and current Lockheed Martin employee.

How the new Crew Dragon spacecraft will look.
An illustration of the new Crew Dragon spacecraft featuring a glass dome. SpaceX

On other Dragon capsules, a docking mechanism is required at the top so they can link up with the International Space Station. But as the Inspiration4 mission is an orbit-only adventure, SpaceX engineers saw an opportunity to include the cupola.

Shortly after SpaceX announced the new design in March, it was revealed the spacecraft’s bathroom would be located in the same place. Isaacman responded at the time: “When people do inevitably have to use the bathroom, they’re going to have one hell of a view.”

He added that the capsule is pretty small and therefore lacks privacy, though fortunately the bathroom does include a curtain so you can avoid doing your business under the full gaze of others.

And just in case anyone spends longer in the bathroom than is reasonably necessary (though, with those views, it will be kind of understandable), then the crewmembers can still enjoy the amazing scenery through the spacecraft’s four smaller windows.

Editors' Recommendations

Trevor Mogg
Contributing Editor
Not so many moons ago, Trevor moved from one tea-loving island nation that drives on the left (Britain) to another (Japan)…
How to watch SpaceX launch Cygnus cargo ship to ISS for first time
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launching from Cape Canaveral.

SpaceX is about to launch Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus cargo ship to the International Space Station (ISS) for the first time, and you can watch the event live online.

The 20th Commercial Resupply Services (NG-20) mission is set to get underway from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Tuesday, January 30. Scroll down for full details on how to watch.

Read more
Gorgeous images show Axiom-3 crew over Himalayas on ISS approach
The SpaceX Dragon Freedom spacecraft carrying four Axiom MIssion 3 astronauts is pictured docked to the space station shortly after an orbital sunrise.

A SpaceX Crew Dragon approaching the ISS in the Axiom-3 mission. NASA

The first all-European commercial crew to head for the International Space Station (ISS) arrived safely at the orbital outpost on Saturday morning.

Read more
SpaceX has set a new date for Axiom-3 crewed rocket launch
The Axiom 3 mission waiting to launch.

The Falcon 9 rocket that will carry the Axiom 3 crew to space. SpaceX

NASA’s third private launch to the International Space Station (ISS) has been moved from Wednesday to Thursday to give SpaceX more time to complete pre-launch checkouts and data analysis on the Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon capsule.

Read more