As SpaceX is gearing up for the first manned test flight of its Dragon capsule, which the company stated will take place later this year, CEO Elon Musk treated his Twitter fans to a sneak peek of the Crew Dragon spacecraft.
Yesterday, the billionaire tech mogul took to social media to share an exclusive image of the new human-carrying space pod, photographed during one its first major on-ground tests.
The snapshot reveals the futuristic Crew Dragon capsule inside a sound-absorbing anechoic chamber, where it was placed along with its “trunk” to undergo an electromagnetic interference test.
Anechoic chambers have the advantage of simulating the environment that the Crew Dragon ship will encounter in space and are designed to test whether the electrical systems mounted on spacecraft are up to par, CNET reports.
The next stop for SpaceX’s Crew Dragon vehicle will be NASA’s Plum Brook Station in Sandusky, Ohio, where the spacecraft will be tested in a vacuum chamber, Musk said in his Twitter post.
The 100-foot-wide and 122-foot-tall vacuum chamber is the largest in the world and was built by the space agency to test its Orion crew module, notes CNET.
SpaceX’s crew transport pod builds on the design of the company’s cargo-ferrying Dragon spacecraft and is intended to take both cargo and a crew of up to seven people into space.
The Crew Dragon capsule is fitted with four windows to offer its passengers a spectacular view of the cosmos. At the same time, its refined, ultra-modern interior, detailed in the video below, includes high-tech digital displays and carbon fiber seats made with Alcantara cloth, reports Inverse.
The Crew Dragon spacecraft is powered by eight SuperDraco engines and is protected by a Phenolic Impregnated Carbon Ablator-X heat shield, that will ensure the capsule remains unscathed upon re-entering Earth’s atmosphere.
In addition, the Dragon’s engines are capable of a 120,000-pound axial thrust that can safely eject the capsule over half a kilometer (or 0.3 miles) in over five seconds in the case of an emergency escape.
Earlier this month, Musk announced on Twitter that SpaceX will be shipping the new Crew Dragon capsule to Cape Canaveral in Florida in August for a demonstration test.
The next-generation spacecraft is built to carry astronauts to the International Space Station, as well as other destinations, such as the moon and Mars. SpaceX is planning to launch the new Dragon capsule on its first cargo mission to the red planet by 2022, while its first crewed mission to Mars is slated for 2024.