Dragon V2 The second-gen Dragon just had its coming-out party, but we’ll recap the highlights. 9,000kg 20,000 lbs Crew maximum 7 Launch Vehicles Atlas V, Delta IV and Falcon 9 Dream Chaser Image credit: NASA The odd duck in the government’s commercial crew program is the Dream Chaser. Dream Chaser Length 9 m 29. In November of 2016, the pint-sized shuttle lookalike is scheduled to make it to orbit for the first time.init” A bit of legwork is still needed before Orion can make its way into orbit, but its first test flight isn’t far off.
Dragon V2 remedies that, providing accommodations for up to seven passengers or less for additional cargo space. Orion Diameter 5 m/16.5 feet long. As if the similarities to NASA’s spaceplane weren’t enough already, it’s set to use the very same runway as its much larger doppelgänger.
56 m 15 ft Height 5 m 16. Returning to Earth for Orion means deploying parachutes and splashing down in the ocean, much like the Apollo missions did. Although it was originally devised as part of the now-canceled Constellation program that aimed to take astronauts to asteroids, Mars and the moon, the space agency’s building a version of the craft — with the help of Lockheed Martin — that’ll become its Swiss Army knife. Ironically, for as much as NASA’s demise is proclaimed, it’ll launch Orion before the CST-100 and Dream Chaser even get their first taste of space’s vacuum.
3 m/11 ft Weight 8,913 kg/19,650 lbs Crew maximum 6 Launch Vehicle Delta IV, Space Launch System Wrap-up Though each of these commercial vehicles is progressing steadily, it may not be until 2016 that any of them are slung into orbit. Eight new SuperDraco engines are fitted into the vehicle, allowing it to land on solid ground with the precision of helicopter, all without using a single parachute. For landings, the craft slows itself down with parachutes and touches down on terra firma. Of course, in an emergency, the vessel can use its reserve chutes and drop itself into the sea.
galleries. CST-100 Diameter 4. In the case of an emergency, however, the vehicle can take a dip in the sea. We’ve surveyed the space capsule landscape and have whipped up a primer on the future crafts that may wind up taking humans to space.
Sierra Nevada’s solution can handle ferrying up to seven folks to space in low-earth orbit, but it’s not fit for long trips to other planets.9 ft Weight 11,300 kg 25,000 lbs Crew maximum 7 Launch Vehicle Atlas V Orion Image credit: NASA, Flickr OK, NASA’s next-generation space vehicle, Orion, isn’t a commercial craft, but it’s certainly worth mentioning. A battery of tests is still in the cards for Dragon V2 before it goes airborne, but it’s expected to fly with humans aboard in 2016. What’s more, it’ll also be able to haul up to six people to the International Space Station if the need arises.
5 ft Height 3. As SpaceX’s workhorse, the original Dragon has sat atop Falcon 9 rockets and carried cargo to the International Space Station, but it hasn’t been able to safely transport humans. Inside SpaceX’s Dragon V2 See all photos 5 Photos when.
eng”eng. Rather than rely on a capsule design, Sierra Nevada Corporation’s built its astronaut taxi by picking up the space shuttle’s mantle.eng”eng. When it’s tasked with taxiing humans, Boeing’s vessel can carry a crew as large as seven.
NASA’s Orion space capsule See all photos 6 Photos when. Although it resembles NASA’s retired 184-foot long workhorse, it measures up at just 29. The Dream Chaser uses an entirely different form of controlled descent from its competition. By gliding down from low-Earth orbit, the contraption is able to land at any airport runway suited for commercial airliners.
galleries.5 ft Wingspan 7 m 22. In fact, Elon Musk’s firm is just one of three private outfits currently competing in a NASA program for commercial launches with their own vehicles.init” CST-100 Image credit: Boeing, PDF Boeing’s entry into the commercial crew and cargo program is the Crew Space Transportation-100, or CST-100 for short.
What’s more, it’s expected the capsule can be used up to 10 times before needing significant repairs.5 ft Weight Approx. Come December 2014, it’ll head 3,600 miles away from our blue marble and land — if all goes well — in one piece.Sure, the Dragon V2 is the latest and greatest spacecraft from SpaceX, but it’s not the only capsule that may one day schlep astronauts to the International Space Station.
No matter which companies NASA ultimately taps for future crew and cargo missions, space aficionados will have the private space race as entertainment. The CST-100 isn’t quite ready to be tossed into the vacuum of space quite yet, but it’s making good progress. While it builds on the shuttle’s strengths, it also inherits some of its weaknesses. Not only does it look like a pint-sized shuttle, but it also functions much like one.
In addition to shuttling astronauts to the International Space Station, it’s intended to carry folks to private space stations like those proposed by Bigelow Aerospace. In February, the hardware that connects it to Atlas V rockets passed muster with NASA, and it’s on track to hit the development milestones the space agency is looking for in 2014. Now dubbed the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle MPCV, it’ll be able to make those same trips using a new rocket setup called the Space Launch System. In an emergency, however, the vessel can safely set itself down on soil. That is the news today. Have a great day!