” At an evening event in the SpaceX Headquarters on Thursday night, CEO and founder Elon Musk revealed the Dragon V2 space capsule, a next-generation version of SpaceX’s current Dragon capsule that will be able to ferry up to seven crew members and cargo to the International Space Station (ISS) and eventually to other destinations. The capsule is reusable, and will be able to make a controlled landing “with the precision of a helicopter” upon re-entry.
The capsule, which has been in development for several years with help from NASA, will be a part of a new generation of commercial space vehicles since the US shuttered its own shuttle program in 2011. Currently, NASA pays Russia around $71 million a head to taxi astronauts to and from the ISS on Soyuz vehicles.
Tonight, Musk told the press that his company foresees being able to send astronauts to the ISS and back for around $20 million per seat.
Musk added that depending on how many flights SpaceX is able to launch, that cost-per-head number could come down significantly to where it could “potentially get into the single-digit-million figure.”
NASA has publicly stated that it wants a commercial space vehicle to be ready for prime time by 2017; Musk told Ars tonight that NASA is being characteristically cautious: “from a SpaceX standpoint we expect to be ready to transport crew by 2016,” he said. “We feel fairly confident that we’ll be ready in two years.” When the Dragon V2 does launch, it’ll launch from the historic pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center, which SpaceX recently signed a 20-year lease for.”
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