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Shit Elon Says - Transcript - SpaceX unveils Dragon 2

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Alright. Welcome everybody to the Hawthorn headquarters of Space Exploration Technologies. We're here to unveil Dragon version two. Dragon version one is right above your heads. In fact, this is the first Dragon spacecraft that came back from orbit, and you can see the scorch marks on the heat shield, the thrusters that have fired - it's a real spacecraft. I'll start off by telling you a little bit about the Dragon version one, before showing you Dragon version two.

When we first created Dragon version one, we didn't really know how to create a spacecraft. We'd never designed a spacecraft before. So, while there are a lot of interesting technologies in version one, it does have a relatively conventional landing approach - it throws out parachutes to land in the water off the coast of California, after it comes back from the space station, and it does have a life support system, but not one that can last for a long time or carry a lot of people. So, it's a great spacecraft and it was a great proof-of-concept. It showed us what it took to bring something back from orbit, which is a very difficult thing to do. Usually when something comes in from orbital velocity, it burns up in a big fireball.

Going from Dragon version one we wanted to take a big step in technology - really create something that was a step change in spacecraft technology. Some important characteristics of that are the ability to land anywhere on land, propulsively. That's one of things that Dragon version two will be able to do. You'll be able to land anywhere on Earth with the accuracy of the helicopter. Which is, I think, something that a modern spaceship should be able to do. It'll be capable of carrying seven people - seven astronauts for several days. It has an improved version of our PICA heat shield, and it's all-round, I think, really a big leap forward in technology. It really takes things to the next level.

So with that, let's see the Dragon version two. We're going to do a countdown here.

We have an animation that shows you how Dragon version two will work. So let's roll that animation.

"That is how a 21-st century spaceship should land."

A few other things. I'm going to talk about some of the hardware in Dragon, some of the technologies. We're going to roll those out. A few things I should mention that you saw in the animation but we don't have time to show you today are the docking mechanism - the Dragon version two is capable of autonomously docking - either autonomously or under pilot docking with the international space station, and potentially other things, without needing the station arm. The version one makes use of the Canada arm that's on the space station, Dragon version two is capable of docking autonomously without the use of the arm - that's a significant upgrade as well. Although it wasn't shown in the video, Dragon version two still retains the parachutes of Dragon version one, so that - what it'll do when it reaches a particular altitude just a few miles before landing, it will test the engines, verify that all the engines are working, it will then proceed to a propulsive landing. If there's any anomaly detected with the engines or the propulsion system it will then deploy the parachutes to ensure a safe landing even in the event the propulsion system is not working. Even after starting the propulsion system, it can afford to lose up to two engines and still land safely. After the engines are started it deploys the landing legs for a soft landing.

The reason that this is really important, apart from the convenience of the landing location, is that it enables rapid reusability of the spacecraft. You can just reload propellant and fly again. This is extremely important for revolutionizing access to space. "As long as we continue to throw away rockets and spacecraft, we will never have true access to space." It will always be incredibly expensive. You can imagine a scenario in aircraft where aircraft were thrown away with each flight that no-one would be able to fly, or very few, maybe a small number of government customers and the same is true of rockets and spacecraft. That's really why it's so important to be able to land propulsively, land on land, and then be able to reload propellants and take off again.

So, I'll point out some of the technologies here. This is a composite overwrapped titanium sphere and this contains the ultra high pressure helium that pressurizes the propulsion tanks that feed the SuperDraco engine. This is the Draco engine that is a maneuvering thruster, and this is essentially the same as the one that, or very similar to the one that is on Dragon version one. On Dragon version one there is eighteen of these thrusters for maneuvering in space, as well as controlling the trajectory during reentry. We have a bunch of these on version two as well. From a propulsion standpoint, the biggest single change for Dragon version two is the addition of the SuperDraco engines. This is really a super-powered version of the Draco engine. Whereas the Draco engine produces about 100 pounds of thrust, each of these engines produce 16,000 pounds of thrust. Hence the 'super'. They're in pairs, so that if one malfunctions, it's pair can takeover and increase thrust to compensate for the one that's not firing. Each one is in a protective shell, so if anything goes wrong it's contained within that protective nacelle. This will also be the first fully printed engine. This is printed inconel, a high strength alloy, and it'll be the first time that a printed rocket engine sees flight.

This is the propellant tank, a whole series of these spheres are around the perimeter of Dragon v2 and these are also carbon overwrapped titanium and they feed the SuperDraco engines which are operating at a chamber pressure of about 1000 psi, and fed from these series of propellant tanks around the perimeter.

We also have version three of the PICA heat shield. The base heat shield is the third version of our heat shield technology. The first version, obviously, flew on that version one spacecraft up there. We're now about to fly version two and version three. With each one we'll able to make the reusability of the heat shield better - it ablates less as it enters and we're able to get more flights. That's Dragon version two. "Although, it'd be nice to go inside.. but for that, we will need a comically fast set of stairs."

I'm sitting here in the pilot's seat. Pull that down. We've aimed for something with the Dragon version two, for the interfaces and for the overall aesthetic, something that's very clean, very simple. As the pilot, you're able to interaction with the screens overhead to control the spacecraft and then we've got all the critical functions that are needed in an emergency situation as manual buttons. That's what you see in this area here.

Heh, that's a little unwieldy. Alright, that's all a lot easier in zero-gee by the way. So, there you have it. Dragon version two is capable of carrying up to seven astronauts, propulsively landing almost anywhere in the world and something that's designed, as I said, to be fully reusable. So, you could fly this multiple times, allowing for potential dramatic reduction in the cost of access to space.

Thank you.


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