SpaceX plans to reveal new Dragon Mk 2 capsule

Elon Musk, founder of SpaceX, announced Friday that a manned version of SpaceX’s Dragon capsule will be revealed on May 29. The original Dragon is currently responsible for taking cargo to and from the International Space Station. Although it does contain a pressurized hold, SpaceX has been working on a new version of the Dragon dubbed Mk 2 that is designed to carry a human payload.
 
The new capsule will have additional safety features, and may replace the Russian Soyuz module. Despite NASA largely breaking off contact with the Russian Federal Space Agency due to the situation in Ukraine, the agency must still coordinate with Russia to get astronauts to the ISS and back. Their Soyuz capsule is currently the only delivery method suitable for a human crew.
 
If NASA decides to use the Dragon Mk 2, SpaceX will be the first private company to take astronauts to the space station. When combined with the reusable Falcon 9 booster also designed by the company, the Dragon Mk 2 will present an affordable and less diplomatically complicated alternative to the Soyuz.
 
Musk said that the craft on display on May 29 will be the real deal, and not a production mockup. SpaceX is close to beginning full-scale testing, is hoping to send the Dragon Mk 2 on its first real mission as early as 2015. No manned missions have been scheduled thus far, but if the capsule proves to be as safe and reliable as it should be, NASA will likely be very interested.
 
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