SpaceX Outlines CCDev Proposal

SpaceX has released a new video touting its bid to launch NASA astronauts into orbit using its Falcon 9/Dragon system. The clip above is an excerpt; view the full video here.)  In a blog post, the company also provided some additional details on the proposal it submitted for funding under NASA’s CCDev program.

The key excerpts:

In addition to last month’s successful demonstration, SpaceX recently took another critical next step towards the development of an American alternative to the Russian Soyuz. On December 13th, we submitted our proposal to NASA’s Commercial Crew Development Program (CCDev2) to begin work on preparing Dragon to carry astronauts. The primary focus of our CCDev2 proposal is the launch abort system. Using our experience with NASA’s COTS office as a guide, we have proposed implementing the crew-related elements of Dragon’s design with specific hardware milestones, which will provide NASA with regular, demonstrated progress including:

  • initial design of abort engine and crew accommodations;
  • static fire testing of the launch abort system engines; and
  • prototype evaluations by NASA crew for seats, control panels and cabin

SpaceX has proposed an integrated launch abort system design, which has several advantages over the tractor tower approaches used by all prior vehicles:

  • Provides escape capability all the way to orbit versus a tractor system, which is so heavy it must be dumped about four minutes after liftoff.
  • Improves crew safety, as it does not require a separation event, whereas any non-integral system (tractor or pusher), must be dumped on every mission for the astronauts to survive.
  • Reduces cost since the escape system returns with the spacecraft.
  • Enables superior landing capabilities since the escape engines can potentially be used for a precise land landing of Dragon under rocket power. (An emergency chute will always be retained as a backup system for maximum safety.)