Elon Musk of SpaceX welcomed the New Year by releasing a simulation video of the company's Crew Dragon capsule transporting astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS). Musk hinted that the actual human spaceflight of the capsule could take place this year.
SpaceX developed the Crew Dragon to serve as a reusable spacecraft. Being a commercial partner of NASA, SpaceX intends to use the capsule to ferry the agency's astronauts to the ISS.
SpaceX's Simulation Video of Crew Dragon's Launch
Last week, Musk shared a video via Twitter showing a simulated launch of the Crew Dragon capsule. The animated video starts off with two astronauts exiting a Tesla Model X and walking across an aerial runway. The runway takes to the Crew Dragon, which is mounted on top of SpaceX's flagship rocket, the Falcon 9.
After launching into space, the Crew Dragon detaches from the rocket as it prepares to dock at the ISS. The two astronauts then join the crew of the massive orbiting space station to carry on with their mission. After completing their work aboard the ISS, the astronauts depart the station through SpaceX's capsule. As the Crew Dragon enters Earth, it deploys its parachutes to ensure a safe landing for the astronauts.
Transporting Astronauts To The International Space Station
Successfully launching the Crew Dragon will serve as a historical achievement for SpaceX as it will complete its promise to NASA of transporting its astronauts to and from space. Although SpaceX has been NASA's commercial spaceflight partner for several years now, major setbacks have prevented the company from moving forward with its Crew Dragon capsule. One of these is the accidental explosion that destroyed the spacecraft during a test in April last year.
The delays caused by the issues have forced NASA to turn to the Soyuz spacecraft of its Russian counterpart and ferry astronauts to the ISS. But, as hinted in the video posted by Musk, it seems SpaceX is preparing to carry on with the first human test flight of the Crew Dragon this year. If all goes well for the company, it could finally become NASA's main commercial spaceflight provider for its astronauts.