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SpaceX DragonV2 Unveiling w’ Elon Musk:

SpaceX DragonV2 Flight Animation:

Thursday night at SpaceX’s Hawthorne CA headquarters, Elon Musk hosted the unveiling of the next generation Dragon capsule known as the DragonV2. The DV2 will be human rated and is designed to fly up to 7 humans to the International Space Station (ISS) or Low Earth Orbit (LEO).

Aside from the sleek new design there are many new features here that the original Dragon capsule did not have. For starters the interior of the ship is just beautiful and for lack of better words, “space aged” well; perhaps that’s perfect actually. The form fitting aesthetic seats and the metal color interior walls scream “spaceship” as it’s exactly what you may imagine a cockpit of one should look like. The operators console folds down into view. The interface is a combination of touch screen for miscellaneous duties and manual push button/joystick operations for mission/flight critical operations and or emergencies.

The DV2 is also designed to dock to the ISS autonomously with the option for manual override. The original Dragon must be captured by the Canadarm2 and berthed to station from inside ISS.

Landing this ship will be completely different and it’s something that’s never been attempted before. The classical method of landing a manned space capsule where after reentry it’s floated back down to the Earth’s surface via 3 main parachutes where it then makes its final landing in the ocean or on land depending which capsule we’re discussing. The DV2 will land propulsively using 8 Super Draco engines. The onboard systems will verify that the Super Draco engines are working properly. If they are not working as needed, the DV2 has retained its parachute landing capability. If the Super Draco engines are functioning as expected it will follow a controlled descent and land on three deployable shock absorbing legs back at Kennedy Space Center or wherever in the world it needs to. As Elon put it during the event; “That is how a 21st century spaceship should land.”
The Super Draco engines each produce 16,000 lb. thrust vs the standard Draco engines 100 lb. thrust which allow for a safe propulsive landing even in the event 2 engines fail. They are also the first ever fully printed rocket engines. DV2 however still has a number of the original Draco engines onboard for thrusters and maneuvering.

SpaceX has also introduced the 3rd generation Phenolic Impregnated Carbon Ablator (PICA or PICA-X) heat shield on the DV2. Basically, it’s SpaceX’s version of NASA’s PICA heat shields. It’s designed for greater reusability with reduced ablation during reentry.

What about those odd names that SpaceX has for its rockets & engines; Falcon, Dragon, Merlin, Draco, Kestrel & Raptor ever wonder about that? I’ll be quick, but let’s dig in!
The Falcon 1 & Falcon 9 rockets are named after Hans Solo’s Millennium Falcon in the movie “Star Wars”.
The Dragon capsule was named after the Peter, Paul & Mary song “Puff the Magic Dragon” because of his critics calling his ambitions fantasy and casting doubt.
The Merlin main engines that power the Falcon9 rocket were named after the Wizard Merlin of Arthurian legend.
The Kestrel engine which powered the Falcon 1 upper stage is named after the Kestrel bird species which has lineage in the falcon genus.
The Draco & Super Draco engines used as maneuvering thrusters in the Dragon spacecraft’s & propulsive landing engines in the DV2 are named after the constellation Draco the “Dragon.” It’s also a character in the Harry Potter series.

There are a few other great SpaceX names as well, such as the “Dragon Eye” which guides the Dragon capsule into the ISS. There’s the CUCU “Cuckoo” communication system; an acronym for the COTS Ultra high frequency CommUnication system. There’s also the Raptor engine in development as a new upper stage engine and in the future to power the massive 10 meter core stage of the Mars Colonial Transporter. Then there’s Grasshopper, the now famous Vertical Takeoff, Vertical Landing (VTVL) test bed. But let’s not forget the big project in the works……Mission Red Dragon. But you can probably guess where that’s headed.

SpaceX main site: http://www.spacex.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/SpaceX

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/spacex

GooglePlus: http://plus.google.com/+SpaceX

Elon Musk Twitter: https://twitter.com/elonmusk

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