Thursday, October 20, 2011

NASA Gives Preliminary Approval to SpaceX Dragon Launch Abort System

SpaceX passed another important milestone on the road to having their Dragon capsule “man-rated” to carry astronauts into space, as NASA gave a preliminary approval to the California based aerospace firm’s launch abort system.

The abort system will include engines built into the capsule’s side walls, as opposed to a tower design used on older Apollo era craft. NASA’s Orion capsule also features a tower design, which would include rocket motors to pull the capsule off the launching rocket in the event of a launch abort in flight.
According to FloridaToday.com, NASA has agreed to pay SpaceX up to $75 million in the second round of the Commercial Crew Development program, which awards payments based on completed milestones.


FloridaToday.com reported:


"SpaceX says the reusable system will save money and eliminate the need to jettison an abort tower during a nominal flight. The engines could also be used eventually for a landing on land instead of water.


NASA approved the preliminary design under a program helping four companies develop commercially operated spacecraft that could transport astronauts to and from the International Space Station by the middle of the decade. NASA agreed to pay SpaceX up to $75 million in the second round of the Commercial Crew Development program, with payments awarded upon completion of specific milestones.

The Hawthorne, Calif.-based company has completed four of 10 milestones to date.The Dragon is expected to begin delivering cargo to the station next year, and is being upgraded for crewed missions."


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