SpaceX Crew Dragon takes maiden test flight, looks on-course for 2017 ISS mission
Elon Musk’s SpaceX gave a glimpse of their manned spacecraft that is destined to take astronauts to the ISS (International Space Station) in 2017. Yes, the Crew Dragon capsule that hopefully NASA will use to ferry 7 astronauts safely to the ISS. The capsule is made from highest-grade carbon fiber material and alcantara cloth which gives it structural strength as well as resistance while exiting/entering Earth’s atmosphere. In its maiden test flight, the spacecraft did exactly what the SpaceX team intended and therefore helps it inch close to the goal of first-ever commercial spacecraft flight with astronauts on-board.
The spacecraft can detach from the main rocket and take crew to safety
Crew Dragon has a diameter of 12 feet and is 20 feet tall which can carry up to 7 astronauts on-board. The four windows provide the riders a view of planet Earth, Moon and the mesmerizing Solar System. The space vehicle uses Draco Thrusters on its side which gives it the leverage to land propulsively on land like a helicopter and eliminates the constraints of ocean landings. To ensure the safety of people on the spaceship, there is an advanced emergency escape system and Environmental Control and Life Support System (ECLSS) for keeping the inside temperature (between 65 to 80 degrees Farhenheit) well-suited for a comfortable ride.
The spacecraft is fully autonomous, however it can also be controlled by the astronauts on-board or SpaceX mission control in Hawthorne, CA. At a demonstration that took place at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, Crew Dragon took a flight of 99 seconds in which it showed how the people on-board would be carried to safety in case there was some problem with the rocket providing thrust. For this the spacecraft separates from the main rocket and takes flight to a safe location.
SpaceX has ambitious plans with the Crew Dragon as they want to use it for the proposed mission to Mars too. So far so good, the spacecraft has managed to pass the initial test without much hitch and looks on-course for its ISS mission along with Boeing.