Monday, April 14, 2014

Crewed Dragons

SpaceX’s Reisman argued that while Dragon was designed from the outset to carry people, it would not be that simple to quickly convert the cargo version to carry people.
Is there a hidden reason for saying this that obscures the truth?

What changes from the cargo Dragon are required?
  • The launch escape system has two tests scheduled as part of an existing contract. The main requirement, superdracos, have already been tested.
  • Life support: Oxygen, C02 scrubbing and temperature control are trivial considering how long we've been doing it and companies like Paragon specialize in it.
  • They've already tested seating for seven.
  • Displays and controls in the spacecraft for those crews are not a big deal to develop compared to what they've already done.
The truth is SpaceX doesn't want to jeopardize NASA paying for these things which they could do for themselves in no time at all. We could be flying crewed Dragons before the end of this year if they wanted to. None of these requirements, except for seating which they already have, are actually requirements. Launch escape is a safety feature and not actually required. Even when it exists the realistic hope is they would never use it. Displays and controls fall into the nice to have category, they are not a requirement since controlling the craft is already done now. That's just an incremental improvement to an existing system. Life support? The sixties are calling to tell ya how it's done.

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