Thursday, August 24, 2006

A picture says a thousand words...

And each word is cool, cool, cool...

By popular demand, I am posting the photos that SpaceX has released regarding the Nasa COTS project. COTS stands for Commercial Orbital Transportation Services, and is intended to build a replacement for the shuttle to send cargo and people to the space station and beyond.

The project culminates in the delivery of cargo to the ISS in 2009. If that is successful, Nasa can extend the agreement to transport crew members to the ISS.

With that aside, here are the pics:

First of all, SpaceX's transportation vehicle will be a rocket, and not a replica of the shuttle.

The Rocket is the Falcon 9, and it will carry the Dragon Space Ship in its ferring, much the same as in Apollo Program. While it is not a space plane, both Falcon 9 and Dragon are fully reusable, which is a major breakthrough in launch vehicle design.

A 3D viewing of the interior of Dragon, in its cargo-carrying configuration:

How Dragon would be configured to carry crew:

How Dragon would connect with the International Space Station:

Dragon docking to the Internation Space Station:

Dragon docked to the ISS:

The part of Dragon that carries the cargo and people back to Earth:

The crew configuration for return to Earth:

As I said, cool, cool, cool...


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Ed said...

Yeah Kimbal, that is way cool. When can I fly in one of those?

ザイツェヴ said...

The picture of Falcon 9 stacked with Dragon is amazing, because it shows just how big Dragon is. Also it's curious that the escape tower is missing, though of course the design is not finalized at this point. Maybe the rockets are inside the adapter, or "trunk", kinda like that Canadian Arrow thing planned to do.

Anothing curious thing, there's no payload shroud and Dragon rides the launch naked, just like Shuttle does. I recall, Elon said (at Space Access, I think) that Dragon can re-enter nose-first, so the little atmospheric drag won't hurt it. Although it's hard to imagine just why in the world SpaceX would design this capability into Dragon it comes useful at least at launch. It saves weight (maybe), and simplifies abort.

It's not quite clear how the propulsion on Dragon is supposed to work. You can't have the engine bell going through the heat shield, right? Soyuz places all the hardware in a module below the heat shield, and discards it. But Dragon is reusable. So... An innovation! But what? It's going to be very interesting.

Last thing that surprised me is how little space the tankage takes. Just look at Apollo and Soyuz.

ザイツェヴ said...

Pictures of Falcon 9 under construction were unveiled by Flight International. Someone is slacking here :-)

And Kimball, you've got a serious spam problem.

Comga said...

A picture may be worth a thousand words, but CGI is worth little more than a dozen. You once posted some amazing photos from Kawajalein. With lanuch #2 supposedly only weeks away, can you post a few more?

kert said...

Yeah, whats up with that January/February launch ? Any activities yet ?