SpaceX Unveils Its Latest Dragon
Reusable capsule is 'a big leap forward': Elon Musk
By Arden Dier, Newser Staff
Posted May 30, 2014 8:35 AM CDT
The SpaceX Dragon V2 spaceship is unveiled at its headquarters on Thursday, May 29, 2014, in Hawthorne, Calif.   (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

(Newser) – Astronauts could soon be zooming into space in a gumdrop—er, a gumdrop-shaped capsule. SpaceX yesterday unveiled its Dragon V2, which is designed to carry seven astronauts to the International Space Station and will ultimately be able to "land anywhere on Earth with the accuracy of a helicopter," CEO Elon Musk said. Since 2011, NASA has handed the Russians $70 million per astronaut per ride to the ISS on Russia's Soyuz spacecraft; Musk says the Dragon V2 would cost more like $20 million per seat. SpaceX is joined by Boeing, Sierra Nevada Corp., and Blue Origin in its development of replacements for NASA's retired space shuttle fleet, and the agency intends to pick the projects that it wants to see realized in the next few months, with an eye on a 2017 launch.

As NBC News points out, SpaceX's Dragon cargo capsules are well-acquainted with the ISS—they've been making trips there since 2012. The second-generation version has the accommodations needed to carry people: seats for one, along with life support systems and a thruster system that could kick in if things go awry during the ascent. This newest capsule will also be able to autonomously dock at the ISS, reports What SpaceX still plans to add: legs, which would enable the Dragon to land on, well, land, rather than in the sea. "That is how a 21st-century spaceship should land," Musk said. You can watch the reveal in full here.

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May 30, 2014 5:24 PM CDT
This is pretty cool..... In the coming years there will be several options to get people to low earth orbit.... But the real fun begins a few years later.... The first maned mission is scheduled for 2021 and will take astronauts well beyond the moon.....
May 30, 2014 10:15 AM CDT
Agree with Collector - Musk is incredible. I don't know anything about him as a person, but looking at what he's accomplishing as a technology leader year after year - he will go down as one of the greatest American technology visionaries and influencers of all time. Apologies for gushing but his record is just astounding. (Elon, if you read this: don't get a big head, get back to work!)
May 30, 2014 10:14 AM CDT
Astronauts should be paid minimum wage, stop wasting billions on space.