Feeds

SpaceX 'Dragon V2' ROCKET PODULE can hover-land on Earth - or MARS

Now THAT'S a 21st-century spaceship, says Musk

Application security programs and practises

Pics + Vid Elon Musk has unveiled the manned rocket he hopes will win his upstart rocket startup SpaceX the contract to ferry ‘nauts to and from the International Space Station – and set humanity on the path to Martian colonisation.

Youtube Video

Musk lived up to the Tony Stark comparisons with a glitzy ceremony to literally unveil the Dragon V2 taxi-craft. Cheering crowds of staff and reporters stood underneath a scorch-marked Dragon cargoship suspended from the ceiling while thumping music played, and a large screen counted down the curtain drop.

With the curtain down, and the new rocket revealed, Musk announced that the V2 can transport up to seven ‘nauts, with an improved heat shield capable of withstanding temperatures up to 5,000 degrees Fahrenheit (2760°C) and four legs for soft landings instead of ocean drops, which will ensure the capsule can be reused.

“You can just reload propellant and fly again. This is extremely important for revolutionising access to space. So long as we continue to throw away rockets and spacecraft, we will never have true access to space, it’ll always be incredibly expensive,” he said.

The Dragon V2 can, we're told, land even if two out of its four engines fail, and it can deploy parachutes if it detects anything wrong with the propulsion system before it comes in to land. The propulsive system coupled with the four extendable legs are what will allow the craft to ease onto any landing site, according to the space firm.

“You will be able to land anywhere on Earth with the accuracy of a helicopter,” Musk boasted. “That is how a 21st century spaceship should land.”

The inside of the seven-seater, manned SpaceX Dragon V2

The inside of the seven-seater, manned SpaceX Dragon V2

The Dragon will also be capable of docking autonomously or under pilot control with an orbiting space station, rather than needing a robotic arm to guide it in. Inside the craft, the pilot can control critical functions using buttons, while other systems are accessed using giant touchscreens, all located on a panel that swivels into place in front of the seats.

SpaceX has previously stated that its Dragon technology should get ‘nauts onto the surface of Mars as well. Musk has frequently talked about his ambitions to get a colony on the Red Planet within the next decade and how a safe, reusable rocket system is an integral piece of the puzzle.

To get the V2 off the ground is going to cost about a billion dollars, with approximately half of that coming from NASA, which could see the first crewed mission as early as 2016, depending on how well the money flows from the US government in the next couple of years.

SpaceX is hoping that its success with its existing cargo Dragon vehicles, and its plan for reusable V2 capsules, will win it the bulk of the upcoming contract with NASA to provide a space-taxi to the ISS. The firm is in competition with two rivals, Boeing and Sierra Nevada Corp, to become the new go-to guy for manned craft, although the agency could choose to divvy out the spoils among them.

NASA has already spent about $1.2bn (£720m) helping the three competitors to develop their rockets, while the firms have invested hundreds of millions of dollars more.

SpaceX seven-seater, manned Dragon V2

Outside the SpaceX seven-seater Dragon V2

The agency is expected to make its decision on where to put the rest of its cash in the next couple of months, a goal that’s taken on new urgency given how things stand with the Russians. The US is entirely dependent on Roscosmos to use its Soyuz craft to get crew members up and down from the International Space Station, but that relationship has become shaky in the last few weeks as Uncle Sam imposed sanctions on Russia related to the crisis in Ukraine.

Earlier this month, Russian deputy prime minister Dmitry Rogozin threatened to ban the US from the space station, saying that while his country’s half of the ISS could operate with America, NASA ‘nauts would be lost without Roscosmos.

"We've repeatedly warned our colleagues at the political and professional levels (via the Federal Space Agency) that sanctions are always a boomerang," Rogozin said.

"They always come back around and are simply inappropriate in such sensitive spheres as cooperation in space exploration, production of spacecraft engines, and navigation, not to mention manned space flights." ®

Build a business case: developing custom apps

More from The Register

next story
Just TWO climate committee MPs contradict IPCC: The two with SCIENCE degrees
'Greenhouse effect is real, but as for the rest of it ...'
BEST BATTERY EVER: All lithium, all the time, plus a dash of carbon nano-stuff
We have found the Holy Grail (of batteries) - boffins
Asteroid's DINO KILLING SPREE just bad luck – boffins
Sauricide WASN'T inevitable, reckon scientists
Flamewars in SPAAACE: cooler fires hint at energy efficiency
Experiment aboard ISS shows we should all chill out for cleaner engines
The Sun took a day off last week and made NO sunspots
Someone needs to get that lazy star cooking again before things get cold around here
Boffins discuss AI space program at hush-hush IARPA confab
IBM, MIT, plenty of others invited to fill Uncle Sam's spy toolchest, but where's Google?
Famous 'Dish' radio telescope to be emptied in budget crisis: CSIRO
Radio astronomy suffering to protect Square Kilometre Array
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable
Learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.