SpaceX recently tested out it’s propulsion systems that would allow one of its capsules to return astronauts back from the International Space Station.
Up until now, astronauts lifting off into space and returning from the International Space Station did so in capsules with rockets that provided more directional guidance than active propulsion against the forces of gravity. SpaceX has achieved leaps and bounds in the field of more capable and reusable capsules that will not only allow astronauts the ability to return to Earth more safely, but in the event of a launch mishap, have the ability to jettison at great speeds away from an aborted launch.
Earlier Thursday, SpaceX put up a video on Youtube (and other social media platforms) showcasing its Dragon 2 capsule performing a self-hover test. Check out that video below.
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In the video, the Dragon 2 capsule is suspended in the air by cables holding it in place above a landing pad. SpaceX’s eight SuperDraco thrusters turn on all at the same time and Dragon 2 hovers above the landing pad for about five seconds. According to SpaceX, 33,000 pounds of thrust is generated at that time.
Although this technology might seem well advanced, it is still in the early stages of its life before SpaceX actually straps real life astronauts on board. For the first few landings from the International Space station, a parachute will be used to land the capsule in the ocean. Only when Dragon 2 has been tried and tested will they try this type of propulsive landing on earth.
Fans of this technology do remind us that ultimately SpaceX has its sites set on Mars where this technology will be utilized to its fullest.
As far as the aesthetics of the technology, it’s certainly one of the most beautiful expressions of maths and sciences embodied by Rocket science at the moment.