Sunday, December 19, 2010

Flight of the Dragon: Animation

The first flight of the SpaceX Dragon spacecraft was an unmanned test vehicle last week on December 8. However, the ultimate goal is a human rated spacecraft. Here is a SpaceX animation showing the mission profile of a Dragon vehicle carrying a crew to the ISS:

Here is another version with a techno soundtrack:

In watching these videoe, I can't help but be struck by how similar this mission profile is to the first manned missions into space 50 years -- half a century -- earlier: launch, ascent, drop booster stages, conduct mission, drop service module, re-enter, splashdown, recover by helicopter. This technology is unsustainable even if this does happen to be the most inexpensive launcher/spacecraft combination ever built -- too much of the launcher (upper stage) and spacecraft (service module) are thrown away. Haven't we learned anything in 50 years of doing this?

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