Space X continues to make progress…

The picture below was part of this article about Space X’s intentions to develop a better launch abort system using  the integrated rocket system on the Dragon Capsule.

Space X abort and landing system
Dragon Boosting clear on Draco motors

The cool thing about this is that the old system was horribly wasteful and a danger in itself.  This is the old and still standard way (from Wikipedia) a shot of the Apollo system under test, and that was just a larger version of what was on Mercury.

Apollo Pad Abort Test
Apollo Pad Abort Test

This is called a Tractor system, and it pulls the capsule off the booster in case of disaster.  The rocket motor is attached to a shell which attaches to the base of the capsule protecting the capsule in case of rocket ignition.  But for a successful, even survivable mission, now you have to discard the abort system during boost.  And it’s an expensive and heavy piece of gear tossed in the sea.  Even the Orion exploration vehicle, part of the SLS uses the same expensive and wasteful system.

Space X will make the rocket motors part of the Dragon, firing from the skirt area as you can kind of see in the picture at the top.  This rocket motor will Push the capsule off the booster.  It can also become part of the landing system, the intent is to make the Dragon a mixed mode lander, decelerating using rockets, heat shield, then parachute but finally landing under rocket power, this will allow for pin point landing in some reasonably remote and safe spot on land instead of at sea.  In fact the Russians have used a rocket ‘cushion’ system for landing their capsules forever, but the Dragon will be a real landing system, not just a cushion.

Below the Draco Rocket under test, and here the article in Wired that does a good job of explaining what’s going on in the picture.  There is also video at Wired so enjoy.

Draco Rocket Test

Draco Rocket Test

 

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