May 30, 2014

Dragon Mark 2

Two of The Brickmuppet's Crack Team of Science Babes react to the awesomeness that is unveiling of The Dragon Mk2 capsule by SPACE-X founder Elon Musk. 

If it works as advertised it will be a huge advance on all previous space vehicles in a number of areas. 

While it lacks the shuttles cargo bay, it can cary just as many astronauts (7). and looks surprisingly roomy. It can land anywhere as opposed to the two or three airports the space shuttle could use and it is designed with very quick turnaround times in mind. This is significant as the shuttle, while technically resuseable, had to be rebuilt after each flight at great expense. Indeed, refurbishing the solid rocket boosters cost more than simply making disposable ones, and contributed to the O-Ring design that doomed the crew of Challenger,  

Of course reusing the capsule offers limited cost savings if the booster is thrown away. At least one Gemini capsule was flown in space twice and that did not make it a viable commercial system. To that end SPACE-X plans to reuse the first and second stages of Falcon 9 boosters it will use to boost both Dragon capsules and unmanned satellites into space. 

The boosters will cary enough extra fuel to soft land at the launch point, the second stage actually doing one full orbit. This is wasteful of fuel, and reduces payload but makes up for it in preserving the hardware (kerosene is cheap). 

We've covered the tests here before, but a few months ago the Dragonfly Grasshopper test vehicle made the last of its many flights, reaching an altitude of a kilometer. 

Future versions will have retractable landing legs for streamlining during high speed tests and Falcon launches starting with the one this past April,  are being fitted with the retractable legs to work out any bugs before the full up re-useable tests begin.

This is a logical and step by step approach that has as much likelihood as anything of succeeding. In a decade or so we may finally have the space hotels, moon bases, asteroid mines and Mars missions we were promised in our youth. 

Posted by: The Brickmuppet at 11:56 PM | Comments (5) | Add Comment
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1 I like how the booster slowly rotates in the second clip so that the logo is facing the camera on tough-down.  However, the sight of smoke and flames coming off the landing gear always freaks me out.

Posted by: Siergen at Sat May 31 07:14:39 2014 (WVGDf)

2 And yet, still no personal helicopters in our driveways.

Man, the Future sucks.


Posted by: Mauser at Sat May 31 15:38:40 2014 (TJ7ih)

3 But seriously, these guys are awesome. And the use of the Hex-rotor to film these flights is part of what makes the tests to fantastic.

Although it's hard, when the rocket starts to go down, to avoid the mental image of some of the launch failures we've seen clips of so many times.  A rocket going backwards makes one think "boom!"

But every time I see one of these, I think "Rocketships landing on their tails, just the way God and Robert Heinlein intended."

(I know I've said that before. But it bears repeating.)

Posted by: Mauser at Sat May 31 15:44:46 2014 (TJ7ih)

4 It's actually a Grasshopper that was tested. DragonFly is its counterpart that tests Dragon's propulsive landing system and it has not yet flown.

Posted by: Pete Zaitcev at Sat May 31 19:44:21 2014 (RqRa5)

5 Urp....Thanks Pete, I've corrected it.

Posted by: The Brickmuppet at Sun Jun 1 02:42:42 2014 (DnAJl)

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