Encyclopedia Astronautica
Dragon



ydragon.jpg
Dragon
Credit: SpaceX
American manned spacecraft. Commercial space capsule developed by SpaceX as a shuttle to take cargo and crews to the International Space Station and the Bigelow Commercial Station from 2011 on. First launched in 2010.

In September 2006 SpaceX was named as one of two winners of the NASA Commercial Orbital Transportation Services competition. The SpaceX award was $278 million for three flight demonstrations of the Falcon 9 booster carrying the Dragon space capsule. These were to occur in 2009. The third flight would demonstrate unmanned rendezvous and docking of the Dragon capsule with the International Space Station. The crew aboard the station would unload the capsule and fill it with return cargo. The Dragon would undock and return this cargo to earth.

An option to the agreement would fund three demonstration flights of the manned person of the Dragon, which could carry seven crew or a mixture of crew and cargo to the station and back. SpaceX estimated ISS resupply business could be worth as much as $500 million per year after retirement of the US shuttle in 2010.

The cargo and crew versions of Dragon were nearly identical, except for the special provisions added to the manned version: a crew escape system, a life support system, and displays and controls allowing the pilot to take manual control if necessary.

The Falcon 9/Dragon combination was also foreseen as a shuttle to the Bigelow commercial space station / hotel. Both the Falcon 9 and Dragon were to be fully reusable. The booster's two stages and the Dragon would all use parachutes for landings on water.

As of mid-2008 SpaceX was still working under its COTS contract, although three attempts to launch the basic Falcon 1 vehicle, much smaller than the Falcon 9, had failed. The Dragon spacecraft had reached mock-up and fabrication stage. It consisted of three main elements: the Nosecone, which protected the vessel and the docking adaptor during ascent; the Pressurized Section, which housed the crew or pressurized cargo; and the Service Section, which contained avionics, the RCS system, parachutes, and other support infrastructure. There was also an Unpressurized Trunk, which provided for stowage of unpressurized cargo and supported solar arrays and thermal radiators.

The spacecraft was designed for fully autonomous rendezvous and docking. The capsule had a pressurized volume of 18 cubic meters and a payload capacity of 2500 kg up to the station and back. A mix of up to seven astronauts with no payload; or any combination to 2500 kg of cargo and no crew, could be accommodated. For cargo launches the inside of the capsule was outfitted with a modular cargo rack system designed to accommodate pressurized cargo in standard sizes and form factors. For crewed launches, the interior was outfitted with crew couches, controls with manual override capability and upgraded life-support. The reaction control system, used for attitude control and orbital maneuvers and braking for re-entry, had 18 MMH/N2O4 bipropellant thrusters by SpaceX using 1200 kg of propellant

The capsule used an ablative heat shield for a lifting, low-G re-entry; followed by descent under a parachute and splashdown in the ocean.

Development Cost $: 278.000 million. Crew Size: 7.

Gross mass: 8,000 kg (17,600 lb).
Height: 6.10 m (20.00 ft).
Diameter: 3.60 m (11.80 ft).
First Launch: 2010.06.04.
Last Launch: 2010.12.08.
Number: 2 .

More... - Chronology...


Associated Countries
See also
  • New Space Tourism With governmental manned space programs flagging, it seemed by the 21st Century that only civilian investors, building systems for toursim, might keep manned spaceflight alive... More...

Associated Launch Vehicles
  • Falcon 1 American low cost orbital launch vehicle. Falcon I was a two stage, reusable, liquid oxygen and kerosene powered launch vehicle. A single engine powered the first stage. It was designed for cost-efficient and reliable transport of satellites to low Earth orbit. First launch of the Falcon I was scheduled for mid-2004 from Vandenberg, carrying a US Defense Department communications satellite. Development delays and problems with USAF clearances for launch from Vandenberg resulted in the first launch attempt being made in 2006 from a private facility at Omelek near Kwajalein atoll in the Pacific. Success was achieved on the fourth launch in 2008. The Falcon 1 was to be superseded by the Falcon 1e, with an extended-tank first stage, from 2010. More...
  • Falcon 1 American low cost orbital launch vehicle. Falcon I was a two stage, reusable, liquid oxygen and kerosene powered launch vehicle. A single engine powered the first stage. It was designed for cost-efficient and reliable transport of satellites to low Earth orbit. First launch of the Falcon I was scheduled for mid-2004 from Vandenberg, carrying a US Defense Department communications satellite. Development delays and problems with USAF clearances for launch from Vandenberg resulted in the first launch attempt being made in 2006 from a private facility at Omelek near Kwajalein atoll in the Pacific. Success was achieved on the fourth launch in 2008. The Falcon 1 was to be superseded by the Falcon 1e, with an extended-tank first stage, from 2010. More...

Associated Manufacturers and Agencies
  • NASA American agency overseeing development of rockets and spacecraft. National Aeronautics and Space Administration, USA, USA. More...
  • SpaceX American manufacturer of rockets, spacecraft, and rocket engines. SpaceX, USA. More...

Dragon Chronology


2010 June 4 - . 18:45 GMT - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LC40. Launch Pad: SLC40. LV Family: Falcon. Launch Vehicle: Falcon 9. LV Configuration: Falcon 9 s/n F9-1.
  • Dragon/Falcon 9 - . Mass: 4,000 kg (8,800 lb). Nation: USA. Agency: SpaceX. Class: Technology. Type: Technology satellite. Spacecraft: Dragon. Decay Date: 2010-06-27 . USAF Sat Cat: 36595 . COSPAR: 2010-026A. Apogee: 140 km (80 mi). Perigee: 138 km (85 mi). Inclination: 34.5000 deg. Period: 87.30 min. Summary: First launch of the commercial Falcon 9 launch vehicle. Structural model of Dragon reusable spacecraft. Remained attached to final stage..

2010 December 8 - . 15:43 GMT - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LC40. Launch Pad: SLC40. LV Family: Falcon. Launch Vehicle: Falcon 9.
  • Dragon C1 - . Nation: USA. Class: Manned. Type: Manned spacecraft. Spacecraft: Dragon. Duration: 0.14 days. Decay Date: 2010-01-12 . USAF Sat Cat: 37244 . COSPAR: 2010-066A. Apogee: 306 km (190 mi). Perigee: 281 km (174 mi). Inclination: 34.5000 deg. Period: 90.40 min. Summary: First test of the Dragon recoverable spacecraft. Splashed down and successfully recovered in the Pacific Ocean 800 km west of Mexico after a 3 hour 20 minute mission..

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