After SpaceX’s capsule's PDR, and NASA's approval in February of the PDR for Dragon's 2008 maiden flight, the capsule's latest design can now support up to seven passengers, or carry up to 2,500kg (5,500lb) of cargo; it will use 18 SpaceX designed and manufactured Monomethylhydrazine, Nitrogen Textroxide reaction control, orbital manoeuvring system thrusters; be lunar fly-by capable; have an outer mould design for a lifting re-entry; and be water recoverable for an ocean landing.
Updating its website this week the company's new information also provides details of the three missions SpaceX has to complete to win the NASA Commercial Orbital Transportation Services programme contract for ISS re-supply it is in competition against Rocketplane-Kistler for.
The version of the Falcon 9 booster designed to place 8,700kg into low Earth orbit will be used to fly the Dragon for the COTS missions. Falcon 9's maiden launch is scheduled for the second quarter of 2008.
For the first COTS mission, Dragon, probably to be launched from Cape Canaveral, has a 5h maiden flight planned for September 2008. During those hours the capsule will orbit the Earth, transmit telemetry, receive commands, demonstrate orbital manoeuvring and thermal control and re-enter the atmosphere and be recovered.
The second mission, scheduled for the second quarter of 2009, is a 10-day system check out flight with an International Space Station (ISS) approach, rendezvous and breakaway operations using the mission’s Falcon 9 upper stage as an ISS analogue. The final mission is a 3-day cargo supply flight plan with an actual ISS docking but using an empty capsule. This is to take place in the third quarter of 2009.