As the commercial space sector continues to develop apace, Space Exploration Technologies, or SpaceX, is about to unveil what it hopes will become the enzyme for a revolution in U.S. manned space transportation.
Tonight (Thursday) at 7 p.m. PDT (10 p.m. EDT), the manned version of the company's hugely successful Dragon space capsule will be shown off at a special invite-only event at the SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, Calif., by SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk.
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The Dragon V2 is designed to carry seven astronauts (plus cargo) into orbit after being launched atop the company's Falcon 9 rocket system, which is proving to be a stalwart for U.S. access to to space. This hi-tech gumdrop-shaped spacecraft therefore has over twice the capacity of the Russian Soyuz spacecraft, upon which NASA currently relies for manned access to the International Space Station. The aim is to make manned access to orbit (particularly to the ISS) as routine and low-cost as possible, making this an ‘astronaut taxi' of sorts.