This article was originally published on August 4, 2012.
Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) after the success of its Dragon spacecraft, signed a $440 million contract with NASA to develop the successor to Space shuttle and transport NASA astronauts into space.
“This is a decisive milestone in human spaceflight and sets an exciting course for the next phase of American space exploration,” said SpaceX CEO and Chief Designer Elon Musk. “SpaceX, along with our partners at NASA, will continue to push the boundaries of space technology to develop the safest, most advanced crew vehicle ever flown.”
SpaceX plans for its first manned space flight by 2015 based on their recent success with Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft. Dragon spacecraft was not only designed to carry cargo but also capable of transporting the crew to the space station.
Under the Commercial Crew Integrated Capability (CCiCap) initiative, the company will make the following necessary modifications to safely carry the crew into space.
Seats for seven astronauts
An advanced launch pad escape system and a demonstration that makes the spacecraft to escape in case of any emergency during launch with the help of its SuperDraco engines and take them safely to the ocean.
Another demonstration showing Dragon’s capablity to escape the maximum drag by firing SuperDraco engines to move safely away from the rocket.
A safe propulsion landing system to safely land the the spacecraft back home.
Further testing involves Dragon’s design and life support systems.
An new cockpit design with modern human user interfaces.
Liquid rocket engines can be throttled and turned off during an emergency. SpaceX will make all the necessary analyses to make sure the spacecraft is extremely safe and meet the requirements of NASA.