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Today, SpaceX unveiled its Dragon V2 spacecraft, the next generation spacecraft designed to carry astronauts to Earth orbit and beyond. Dragon was designed from the beginning to carry humans, and the upgraded vehicle revealed today will be one of the safest, most reliable spacecraft ever flown.

Dragon V2’s revolutionary launch escape system, the first of its kind, will provide escape capability from the time the crew enters the vehicle all the way to orbit. Eight SuperDraco engines built into the side walls of the Dragon spacecraft will produce up to 120,000 pounds of axial thrust to carry astronauts to safety should an emergency occur during launch.

This system also enables Dragon V2 to land propulsively on Earth or another planet with the precision of a helicopter, making possible interplanetary trips that would otherwise be constrained by ocean landings.

Dragon V2 was designed from the beginning with astronaut safety and comfort in mind. The vehicle holds seats for 7 passengers, and includes an Environmental Control and Life Support System (ECLSS) that provides a comfortable environment for crewmembers.

With a minimal number of stage separations, all-liquid rocket engines that can be throttled and turned off in an emergency, and  launch escape capability all the way to orbit, Dragon V2 will be capable of delivering American astronauts to the space station and beyond with incredible reliability.

Additional upgrades include a SpaceX-designed and built ISS docking adapter, impact attenuating landing legs, and a more advanced version of the PICA-X (Phenolic Impregnated Carbon Ablator-X) heat shield for improved durability and performance. Dragon V2’s robust thermal protection system is capable of lunar missions, in addition to flights to and from Earth orbit.

Dragon V2 builds on SpaceX’s track record for successfully delivering critical cargo and science experiments to the space station for NASA. The Dragon spacecraft currently resupplies the space station under a $1.6 billion Cargo Resupply Services contract with NASA.

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