After a flawless unmanned test in May, the private space firm SpaceX is preparing its Dragon capsule for manned flight. On Thursday, it passed a critical NASA design review, enabling SpaceX to move forward with its ambition to carry people into space within three years.
As part of the review, SpaceX presented plans to NASA for every phase of a manned mission. It described a new launch pad, the capsule’s capabilities for docking with the International Space Station, its living arrangements, energy requirements and landing techniques. It also reviewed the safety mechanisms, such as the new SuperDraco launch abort system.
See also: SpaceX Dragon Returns Safely to Earth
The Dragon capsule is designed to carry up to seven astronauts. NASA’s goal is for at least two of the four private spaceflight firms to have operational manned missions by 2017.
You can learn more about this stage of the Dragon program at Space.com.
Lead image from unmanned Dragon mission courtesy of NASA TV.