A much anticipated event has finally arrived for space buffs. Tonight at 7 pm PDT, Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX, will finally reveal his new Dragon V2 spaceship via live feed.
SpaceX has successfully sent unmanned space vessels filled with cargo to the International Space Station in the past. However, now that the Dragon V2 is officially ready for the public eye, we’re about to see something completely different this evening. The Dragon V2 is a “space taxi,” which will be used to transport up to seven human passengers to and from the International Space Station, among other things.
Since NASA decided to retire all of the space shuttles back in 2011, they’ve been relying on Russian spacecraft to get their personnel to and from the ISS, and they’ve been paying a whopping $71 million per person for every trip. However, they are feeling quite nervous about relying solely on the Russians for help. This could be for good reason, considering recently there has been talk that Russians will withdraw from the International Space Station by 2020.
The trouble began when the US sanctioned Russia for their militaristic takeover of the Ukraine, and things have started to get a bit nasty. There are reports that Russia will stop selling the US their rockets, and, as Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin put it in a tweet, “the US should try using a trampoline to get to the moon.” Such threats have left NASA concerned about their prospects for continued space flights between here and the ISS, at the very least.
In a bid to fill that need, SpaceX has been in competition with a few other independent aerospace companies in the United States, most notably the joint Boeing-Lockheed Martin venture known as United Launch Alliance. SpaceX’s CEO has filed a lawsuit against the United States Airforce for allegedly contracting with ULA for 36 rocket launches without giving the other companies the chance to bid, thus forming a sort of “monopoly” that leaves companies like his out of the loop.
However, when it comes to the Dragon 2, the flashy new vehicle doesn’t seem to be facing any similar difficulties. In fact, Elon may even have found the perfect launchpad for this and other rockets produced by his company at the Southern Texas site. Preliminary approval for the strip of land along the coastline has just been given after an environmental impact study indicated there should be no adverse effect on the area’s flora and fauna as a result of the placement.
Want a brief tour of the current Texas facilities? Watch the video below.