SpaceX’s DM-1 Crew Dragon capsule is making its way toward the highly anticipated demonstration launch slated to take place later this year. Developed by Elon Musk’s company with the goal of ferrying people into space, the new-generation spacecraft is currently undergoing its final batch of tests ahead of its inaugural launch, reports Teslarati.
SpaceX has recently released an exclusive photo of the crewed capsule, snapped inside the thermal vacuum chamber at NASA’s Plum Brook Station in Sandusky, Ohio.
This is the world’s largest vacuum chamber and will assess the spaceship’s capacity to tolerate the harsh thermal conditions that await it in orbit.
As the Inquisitr previously reported, if the Crew Dragon aces the vacuum tests — which are expected to last for a least a few weeks, notes Teslarati — the manned spacecraft will be shipped off to Cape Canaveral in Florida later this summer, to get ready for its first spaceflight.
Last month, Musk unveiled another exclusive photo of the Crew Dragon vehicle during one of its pre-launch tests. The previous snapshot showed the spaceship inside a sound-absorbing anechoic chamber, where the Crew Dragon underwent an electromagnetic interference test.
The newly released image, posted on Twitter on June 20, reveals the Crew Dragon vehicle being craned into NASA’s thermal vacuum chamber for testing and was.
“Crew Dragon is at NASA’s Plum Brook Station testing facility in Ohio, home to the largest thermal vacuum chamber in the world, to demonstrate its capability to withstand the extreme temperatures and vacuum of space,” SpaceX representatives
Crew Dragon is at @NASA’s Plum Brook Station testing facility in Ohio, home to the largest thermal vacuum chamber in the world, to demonstrate its capability to withstand the extreme temperatures and vacuum of space. https://t.co/tiVZs2mscm pic.twitter.com/7YlCasDkVU— SpaceX (@SpaceX) June 20, 2018
According to Teslarati, the Crew Dragon spacecraft is outfitted with special radiators that help it cool down after it takes flight and comes face to face with the extreme solar radiation in outer space.
Just like the solar panels that power the spacecraft, these radiators are installed on the vehicle’s trunk, or the cylindrical segment at the bottom of the crew capsule.
However, in the new SpaceX photo the radiators and solar arrays seem to be missing from the Crew Dragon’s trunk, Teslarati noted after taking a closer look at the snapshot and comparing it with the footage from the previous test.
“Nominally, SpaceX would use the thermal vacuum capabilities of the Ohio facility to fully vet Crew Dragon’s ability to maintain optimal temperatures on orbit, but the particularly tests planned for the DM-1 capsule and trunk may be of a slightly different type,” states Teslarati.
The media outlet also points out that, while the crew capsule will be traveling to Kennedy Space Center in Florida, the spaceship’s trunk (the one used in the vacuum chamber test) is bound for a return trip to the SpaceX headquarters, the factory in Hawthorne, California.
There, the Crew Dragon’s trunk will “be outfitted with flight hardware (presumably including cameras, radiators, solar arrays, and a healthy amount of insulation).”