May 31, 2014

SpaceX's Dragon capsule has been taking cargo to the International Space Station since 2012. After years of development, SpaceX unveiled their next generation of the spacecraft, dubbed Dragon V2, designed to take a crew of astronauts to the International Space Station on Thursday night.

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said the new spacecraft marks a "big leap forward" for the company. Among the key improvements on the new Dragon spacecraft are new rocket engines that will allow the capsule to land propulsively on Earth or another planet with pinpoint accuracy.

According to SpaceX co-founder Elon Musk, it'll be able to return and "land anywhere on earth with the accuracy of a helicopter".

Demonstration of the dragon V2 spacecraft

The new craft is able to be rapid reused. It will be able to simply be refueled and ready to go again. In the last two years It has made several trips to and from the ISS. The Dragon V2 can hold up to seven passengers and is designed to allow for swapping crew space for additional cargo.

Musk also showed off the interior of the Dragon V2, which houses two rows of well-designed seats along with one bank of screens and controls, featuring maximized comfort.

Dragon V2 comes with new "SuperDraco" 16,000 lb-thrust engines that can be restarted multiple times if necessary. In addition, the engines have the ability to deep throttle, providing astronauts with precise control and enormous power.

The SuperDraco engine chamber is manufactured using 3D printing technology, the state-of-the-art direct metal laser sintering (DMLS) which uses lasers to quickly manufacture high-quality parts from metal powder layer by layer. The chamber is regeneratively cooled and printed in Inconel, a high-performance superalloy that offers both high strength and toughness for increased reliability.

"Through 3D printing, robust and high-performing engine parts can be created at a fraction of the cost and time of traditional manufacturing methods," said Musk. "SpaceX is pushing the boundaries of what additive manufacturing can do in the 21st century, ultimately making our vehicles more efficient, reliable and robust than ever before."

Totally eight SuperDraco engines built into the side walls of the Dragon spacecraft will produce up to 120,000 pounds of axial thrust to carry astronauts to safety should an emergency occur during launch.

As a result, Dragon will be able to provide astronauts with the unprecedented ability to escape from danger at any point during the ascent trajectory, not just in the first few minutes. In addition, the eight SuperDracos provide redundancy, so that even if one engine fails an escape can still be carried out successfully.

This week SpaceX announced it has completed qualification testing for the SuperDraco thruster. Watch the video below a SuperDraco engine went through a test firing:


Posted in 3D Printing Applications


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Sam wrote at 4/28/2016 4:27:06 AM:

Parachutes will only slow the spacecraft down to ~15 mph. Because of that an ocean splashdown would be required, complicating the recovery operation and design of the spacecraft. Although a propulsive landing is complex it can work as a launch abort and for landing on other bodies in our solar system where there is little to no atmosphere for the parachutes to use to slow down. Also it will speed the turnaround time which will work in tandem with their recoverable rocket stages. Not to mention it is cool and futuristic!

Geek wrote at 2/28/2016 1:57:11 PM:

if they did, they couldn't land anywhere.

John wrote at 1/26/2016 9:14:27 AM:

Why not use parachutes when landing?

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