The SpaceX Dragon has completed design review for its manned variant. The hope is that this craft will soon ferry astronauts into space, including the International Space Station.
“SpaceX has made significant progress on its crew transportation capabilities,” said NASA manager Ed Mango, in a statement. “We commend the SpaceX team on its diligence in meeting its CCDev2 goals to mature the company’s technology as this nation continues to build a real capability for America’s commercial spaceflight needs.”
SpaceX is one of several private companies trying to develop reliable, safe methods of ferrying people to and from space, under NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.
It has been an exciting year for SpaceX. In May, an unmanned Dragon made history as the first commercial spacecraft to dock with the ISS. In June, SpaceX successfully tested its advanced Merlin 1D rocket engine
As part of the design review, SpaceX gave NASA vital details about Dragon’s crew accomodations, life support, environmental control, displays, controls, the company’s plans to modify launch pads for manned missions, Dragon’s docking systems, weight and power requirements for the spacecraft, and potential ground landing sites.
“Safety was a key focus of the review,” NASA said in a statement. “The SpaceX team presented NASA with analyses on how its SuperDraco launch abort system would perform if an emergency were to occur during launch or ascent. The review also outlined plans for getting astronauts away from danger quickly and safely on the way to low Earth orbit, in space and during the return home.”
“The successful conclusion of the concept baseline review places SpaceX exactly where we want to be — ready to move on to the next phase and on target to fly people into space aboard Dragon by the middle of the decade,” said SpaceX CEO and Chief Designer Elon Musk.