Elon Musk’s Space Exploration Technologies Corp. claims that its Dragon V2 spaceship will be all ready to bring astronauts to the International Space Station within two years. Musk said that the spaceship can carry up to seven people and up to four tons of cargo. He added that the Dragon V2 features legs and re-entry rockets to enable it to land anywhere back on Earth.
Musk said that SpaceX expects the spaceship to transport crew by 2016, a year before NASA needs it. Musk is aiming to have SpaceX’s business with the US go beyond NASA missions, getting a chunk of the $67.6-billion Defense Department budget for satellite launches.
NASA has already retired its space shuttle fleet, rendering Russia’s Soyuz rockets the only way to bring astronauts into space. Musk noted that SpaceX plans to charge less than $20 million per mission into space, much lower the $76 million being charged by Russia.
Musk SpaceX is one of four companies that get a piece of NASA money to develop rockets and capsules to take astronauts to and from the ISS. SpaceX has already received over $2.5 billion in NASA funding since 2008 for commercial crew and other ventures, according to agency numbers.
NASA granted SpaceX with a $440-million funding in August 2012 for development of a version of the Dragon capsule. Musk remarked that Development costs for SpaceX’s first capsule and the V2 version will reach up to $1 billion to get NASA certification.
The company said the NASA will commence tests to certify the V2 for astronaut missions this year. SpaceX had its first Dragon craft cruise to the ISS in May 2012. The Dragon completed its latest cargo mission in May 18 when a Dragon capsule returned with 3,500 lbs of cargo and scientific samples. [source: automotive news - sub. required]