SpaceX shows off Crew Dragon interior

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The Crew Dragon has a minimalist interior(Credit: SpaceX)

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Last year, SpaceX unveiled its Crew Dragon, which is scheduled to begin ferrying astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS) in 2017. Now the company is giving the public a look at the interior. Sporting a minimalist design, it's intended to not only provide safety, but a considerable degree of comfort.

For those whose perceptions of spacecraft are based on Apollo capsules and Space Shuttle flight decks bristling with buttons, switches and instruments like a Cold War bomber, the interior of the Crew Dragon seems almost naked. Instead of panels, lockers, and dials meeting the eye at every turn, the current iteration is one of smooth, white plastic bulkheads and surprisingly simple acceleration couches made of carbon fiber and Alcantara cloth.

Instead of a massive control board, the Crew Dragon has a simple flat screen display panel with a minimum of hard controls. Since the spacecraft is designed to operate autonomously, the panel's function is mainly to convey information, but SpaceX says that in the event of an emergency, control can be switched to the astronauts or mission control in Hawthorne, California.

According to SpaceX, the Crew Dragon’s recently-tested emergency escape system can carry the capsule to safety at any time during the launch, while subjecting the passengers to "about the same G-forces as a ride at Disneyland."

The company is keen to not only play up the safety of the Crew Dragon, but its creature comforts as well. Stepping away from infamous Space Age philosophy of treating astronauts as "Spam in a can," the engineers have provided such amenities as four largish portholes for taking in the views. In addition,Crew Dragon has an Environmental Control and Life Support System (ECLSS) that can even adjust the cabin temperature from a chilly 65° F (18°C) to a balmy 80° F (27° C).

The video below introduces the new Crew Dragon interior. Its design was partially inspired by feedback that SpaceX received after unveiling a full-scale engineering model of the cabin in 2012.

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