Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) is displaying the engineering mock-up of its Dragon capsule at NSS which, together with the Falcon 9 launch vehicle, will form the basis for commercial re-supply to the International Space Station following the space shuttle’s retirement around 2010 onwards.
The mock-up, weighing 4,500-lb., was trucked in from SpaceX’s assembly site in Los Angeles, Calif., and is on display to give attendees some idea of the scale of the vehicle which is also being offered for non-NASA testing roles as the DragonLab. SpaceX, which won a 12 flight commercial re-supply contract from NASA in November 2008, also reports that the PICA-based thermal protection system on the Dragon recently passed qualification testing.
A view looking up inside the Dragon through the main hatch.
(all photos. Guy Norris)
The Merlin Vacuum engine for the Falcon 9 upper stage also recently demonstrated a vacuum specific impulse of 342 seconds, delivering a thrust of around 92,500-lb. in tests at SpaceX’s McGregor, Texas test site. First demonstration flight of the Falcon 9/Dragon combination is scheduled before year-end.To see a computer simulation of a Falcon 9/Dragon X mission click on this link.