Elon Musk, chief executive officer of SpaceX, unveiled its spacecraft called Dragon V2 that is designed to fly from outer space to the earth and, like a helicopter, touch down safely on the ground.
The landing on ground with the accuracy of helicopter is enabled by new SuperDraco engine system capable of producing almost 16,000 pounds of thrust. The eight SuperDraco engines installed as pairs along the module’s walls can be reloaded each flight, making the spacecraft more reusable and help to lower launch costs. The engine chamber is made of Inconel, a high-performance superalloy, using a process called direct metal laser sintering, a form of 3-D printing.
The spacecraft also features the third iteration of the company’s heat-shield technology, designed to improve re-usability by ablating less as it re-enters the atmosphere, Musk said. The new spacecraft, that provides touch-screen controls and able to carry as many as seven astronauts to the orbital outpost – will be tested in 2016.