Wed, Mar 21, 2012
Recently Completed First NASA Crew Trial
SpaceX continues to prepare for its upcoming COTS 2/3 test flight in which it will attempt to send the Dragon spacecraft to the International Space Station. At the same time, the company says it is making rapid progress in its efforts to prepare the Dragon spacecraft to carry astronauts. Recently, SpaceX completed the first NASA Crew Trial, one of two crew tests that are part of its work to build a prototype Dragon crew cabin.
For this milestone SpaceX demonstrated that its new crew cabin design will work well for astronauts in both nominal and off-nominal scenarios. It also provided company engineers with the opportunity to gain valuable feedback from both NASA astronauts and industry experts.
The engineering prototype includes seven seats as well as representations of crew accommodations such as lighting, environmental control and life support systems, displays, cargo racks, and other interior systems. During the daylong test, SpaceX and NASA evaluators including four NASA astronauts, participated in human factors assessments which covered entering and exiting Dragon under both normal and contingency cases, as well as reach and visibility evaluations.
The seven seats mount to strong, lightweight supporting structures attached to the pressure vessel walls. Each seat can hold an adult up to 6 feet 5 inches tall, 250 lbs, and has a liner that is custom-fit for the crewmember. In fact, SpaceX says the Dragon has so much interior volume, an entire three-person Russian Soyuz capsule descent module could be placed inside Dragon’s pressure vessel. (Test crew included (from top left): NASA Crew Survival Engineering Team Lead Dustin Gohmert, NASA Astronaut Tony Antonelli, NASA Astronaut Lee Archambault, SpaceX Mission Operations Engineer Laura Crabtree, SpaceX Thermal Engineer Brenda Hernandez, NASA Astronaut Rex Walheim, and NASA Astronaut Tim Kopra. Photo: Roger Gilbertson / SpaceX)
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