SpaceX revealed on Thursday an updated version of its cargo-only carrying Dragon spacecraft, showing off the new capsule’s sleek interior with room to seat seven astronauts.
The Dragon V2 is much more spacious than the Russia Soyuz spacecraft, which fits three crew members and has been NASA’s only way of sending American astronauts to space since the agency shut down its shuttle program in 2011.
Italian astronaut Paolo Nespoli (right), pictured inside the Soyuz with Russian cosmonaut Dmitry Kondratyev and NASA astronaut Cady Coleman, called the capsule “small but reliable” on his Flickr page after returning to Earth from the space station in May 2011.
NASA astronaut Jeffrey Williams looks a bit cramped in this photo taken inside a Soyuz spacecraft while it was docked with the space station in July 2006.
Passengers inside the Dragon capsule look a lot more comfortable, despite the extra company.
Other upgrades on the Dragon V2 include a control panel that swings down and locks into position after the crew is seated and super thrusters that will enable the crew to escape if there’s a problem at any point during flight. The Dragon capsule is also designed to be reusable, which will reduce the cost of sending people into space.
Space X and two other companies, Boeing and the Sierra Nevada Corp., have received funding from NASA’s Commercial Crew Transportation Capability program to develop a space taxi, with the goal of having one ready to fly crew to the space station by 2017.
The Dragon V2 spacecraft is expected to fly for the first time later this year.
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