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Discovering SpaceX

Discovering SpaceX: Falcon Rocket Family

Discovering SpaceX: Fleet of Recovery Ships

Discovering SpaceX: Dragon Spacecraft

Discovering SpaceX: Starlink Satellite Constellation

Discovering SpaceX: Super Heavy Starship



SpaceX Dragon is a free-flying, reusable spacecraft developed for cargo and human transportation to the International Space Station (ISS) under NASA’s Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) program.

The extraordinary spacecraft first marked its entry in aerospace history way back in in December 2010, when its first-generation version (or Dragon-1) became the world’s first-ever private orbital spacecraft.

Since then, Dragon has been achieving historic milestones, one after another, winning admiration from the space industry and space enthusiasts across the world.

Crew Dragon is the crewed variant of the operational second generation Dragon spacecraft (or Dragon-2). It is the world’s first private spacecraft and the only American spacecraft capable of transporting humans (and cargo) to and from the ISS and beyond.

Crew Dragon is also the world’s first private spacecraft and the only spacecraft capable of flying an all-civilian crew on commercial missions to and from the ISS, and also, far beyond the ISS on space tourism missions.

Cargo Dragon is the cargo variant of the operational second generation Dragon spacecraft (or Dragon-2). It is the world’s first private spacecraft and the only American spacecraft capable of returning a significant amount of cargo back to Earth, including experiments.

As of 01.01.2023, Dragon-2 has made 15 missions to orbital space: 9 crewed missions (one uncrewed) and 6 cargo missions. All missions were to the ISS except one crewed mission, which travelled even farther than the International Space Station. Thirty people were transported to space across eight crewed missions.



Dragon-1 was the first version of SpaceX’s reusable spacecraft developed as a cargo vehicle to run resupply missions to the ISS for National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

Dragon was named after the fictional “Puff the Magic Dragon” from the hit song by music group “Peter, Paul and Mary” by SpaceX Founder, Chief Engineer and CEO Elon Musk.

The unique spacecraft was introduced to the world for the first time in March 2006, when SpaceX submitted to NASA its proposal for the development of a private spacecraft to ferry cargo to the ISS for NASA’s Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) demonstration program.

NASA awards Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) contracts to selected American private space companies for delivery of cargo and supplies to the ISS on their privately developed spacecraft for NASA.

In December 2008, NASA awarded the first CRS contract to two companies – 6-year-old SpaceX and 26-year-old Orbital Sciences (which later became Orbital ATK, and now, Northrop Grumman). SpaceX received US$1.6 billion for 12 resupply missions (covering deliveries to 2016), while Orbital Sciences received US$ 1.9 billion for 8 resupply missions.

Dragon was developed from a blank sheet to its first mission in just over 4 years, and with the best of cutting-edge technology.

Dragon comprised a reusable space capsule and an expendable trunk module to be jettisoned prior to deorbit burn for atmospheric re-entry while returning to Earth.

Dragon high altitude drop test conducted on 12 August, 2010:


Dragon-1 capsule stood 14.4 feet (4.4 meters) tall with a diameter of 12 feet (3.66 meters). The expendable trunk measured 9.2 feet (2.8 meters) in height and 12 feet (3.66 meters) in width.

The pressurized capsule carried pressurized cargo and an unpressurized trunk housed its solar panels along with unpressurized cargo.

Altogether, Dragon was capable of carrying over 3,310 kilograms, split between pressurized cargo inside the capsule and unpressurized cargo carried in the trunk.

The Canadarm2 robotic arm of the ISS had to be used to dock Dragon to the ISS.

The Canadarm2 would reach out to grapple Dragon and prepare it to be pulled into its port on the International Space Station…

Video of a Dragon-1 capsule docking to the ISS:

From 2010 to 2020, Dragon-1 flew to and from International Space Station supplying it with resources and equipment.

All Falcon 9 launches with Dragon-1 took off from Cape Canaveral’s SLC-40 launch pad except for CRS-10, CRS-11 and CRS-12 missions which were launched from Kennedy Space Centre’s LC-39A launch pad.

The Dragon-1 capsule returned to Earth with dual drogue parachutes to slow and stabilize its descent before three main parachutes deployed to land it gently in the Pacific Ocean.

SpaceX deployed a recovery ship named NRC Quest to retrieve the capsule and its cargo from the Pacific Ocean, following splashdown.

After Dragon landing, the ship would move in to recover the capsule. Smaller fast-approach vessels were deployed to collect the parachutes from the ocean surface and assist in manoeuvring the capsule.

As soon as the capsule was recovered, NRC Quest would immediately sail towards the the Port of Los Angeles for a quick handover of the experiments to NASA.

SpaceX Dragon-1 becomes the first privately-developed spacecraft to successfully orbit and return to Earth…

In the morning of 8 December, 2010, the SpaceX COTS Demo Flight-1 (COTS-1) mission lifted off from SLC-40 pad in Florida with the first Dragon-1 spacecraft carrying a wheel of cheese as cargo atop the Falcon 9 rocket on its second launch mission to orbit.

SpaceX had secretly placed a wheel of Le Brouère (a French variant of the Swiss Gruyere, a hard yellow cheese made from cow’s milk) for a ride inside the Dragon Capsule 101.

Capsule C101, the first Dragon 1 from SpaceX production, completed all its mission objectives on this test flight. It orbited the Earth twice for about three hours before re-entering the atmosphere and parachuting into the Pacific Ocean, making a splashdown about 800 kilometres (500 miles) off the west coast of Baja California.

It landed well within the 60 by 20 kilometre recovery zone and was recovered about 20 minutes after splashdown.

Mission accomplished, 8-year-old SpaceX became the first private company to successfully launch, orbit and recover a spacecraft. And Dragon became the first privately-developed spacecraft to return safely from orbit – a feat previously achieved by just three nations (the United States, Russia, and China).

Following its achievement, the slightly-scorched cargo-carrying Dragon capsule was placed for permanent display, hanging from the ceiling, at SpaceX’s HQ cum factory in Hawthorne, California…

Since Dragon was going to re-enter the Earth’s atmosphere, SpaceX had to obtain the license from the Federal Aviation Administration’s Office of Commercial Space Transportation. The license approved on 22 November, 2010, was the first such license awarded to a private company.

After the mission, SpaceX released photos of the cheese wheel, showing it inside a metal cylinder with a bolted cover that featured a cow wearing galoshes – a poster from the 1984 movie “Top Secret”.

Elon Musk later revealed that the wheel of cheese was inspired by a classic skit from the British comedy show “Monty Python’s Flying Circus”, in which actor John Cleese enters a cheese shop and requests dozens of oddly-named cheeses. The skit ends with the actor concluding that the shop – much like outer space – doesn’t have any cheese.


Dragon-1 becomes the first privately-developed spacecraft to successfully dock to the International Space Station…

On May 22 2012, SpaceX went through the most significant moment in the company’s history since its first successful rocket launch in September 2008. That day, a Falcon 9 took off from SLC-40 pad in Florida carrying a Dragon-1 capsule on a SpaceX COTS Demo Flight-2 (COTS-2) mission to attempt berthing with the ISS, deliver cargo to the orbiting laboratory and return to Earth.

It was Dragon’s first mission to and from the International Space Station.

Capsule C102 was the first Dragon with solar arrays. After its launch into space, the capsule fanned out its solar panels and using its 18 Draco thrusters, it proceeded on its way to the ISS.

On 25 May, Dragon got close enough to the ISS for astronaut Don Pettit to use Canadarm2, a 58-foot robotic arm on the ISS to reach out and grab the resupply spacecraft and attach it to the ISS.

With clouds and land forming a backdrop, the SpaceX Dragon commercial cargo craft is grappled by Canadian Space Agency’s Canadarm2 robotic arm at the International Space Station….

Dragon’s berthing with the ISS marked a huge milestone for SpaceX and NASA.

Dragon became the first privately-developed spacecraft in history to successfully dock to the International Space Station. It spent six days docked to the ISS, before returning to Earth with a Pacific Ocean splashdown on the 31st of May.

Capsule C102 is displayed in Kennedy Space Centre…

The two successful launches for the COTS program ware instrumental in SpaceX becoming a reliable contractor to NASA and paved the way for future contracts and missions.


Dragon-1 makes the first of its operational resupply missions to the ISS for NASA…

On 8 October, 2012, SpaceX launched the CRS-1 mission, the first of the 12 cargo resupply missions to and from the ISS under NASA’s Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) contracts.   It was Falcon 9’s fourth mission. During the launch, the first stage suffered an engine shutdown, but still got Dragon to orbit. The mission was partially successful as a secondary ORBCOMM payload was lost.


Capsule C103 achieved orbit, berthed and remained docked to the ISS for 20 days, before re-entering Earth atmosphere and splashing down in the Pacific Ocean on 28 October, 2012.

A SpaceX recovery ship, NRC Quest, retrieved Dragon and its cargo in the Pacific Ocean, following splashdown.

Since then, Dragon has flown to the ISS on CRS missions approximately twice a year, supplying the orbiting laboratory with resources and equipment and returning with cargo too.


In 2015, NASA extended SpaceX’s CRS contract to cover additional 8 resupply missions, totalling to 20 resupply missions.


Dragon-1’s first and only failure…

Dragon experienced its first and only failure during the CRS-7 mission in June 2015.

Due to a fault in the second stage, the Falcon 9 rocket disintegrated 139 seconds after lift-off. The Capsule C109 initially survived the mishap as it got ejected from the exploding launch vehicle. But its control software was not designed to survive such a mishap. As a result, the parachutes could not be opened. But still, Dragon continued transmitting data until it impacted with the ocean and was destroyed.

This failure led to all future Dragons having their software updated to be able to open parachutes in a similar scenario.


Dragon-1 becomes the first spacecraft to visit the ISS a second time since Space Shuttle Atlantis in 2011…

On 3 June, 2017, a Dragon flew to the ISS for the second time on the CRS-11 cargo resupply mission, becoming the first spacecraft to visit the ISS a second time since the Space Shuttle Atlantis in 2011.

The capsule had made its first trip in September 2014 to return to Earth a month later in October with cargo and loads of experiments.

On the CRS-11 mission, the capsule returned home in July 2017, after a month-long stay at the ISS, completing the first re-flight mission of a commercial spacecraft to and from the orbiting laboratory.

The capsule was recovered and refurbished for reuse.



Dragon-1 makes its final operational resupply missions to the ISS for NASA…

Dragon-1’s last mission was the CRS-20 cargo resupply mission launched on 7 March, 2020.

A twice-flown Capsule C112 filled with approximately 4,500 pounds of supplies and payloads for the ISS made this last Dragon-1 mission from Cape Canaveral’s SLC-40 launch pad.

It was SpaceX’s 20th and final cargo resupply mission to the ISS under NASA’s Commercial Resupply Services-1 (CRS-1) contract.

The spacecraft departed the ISS on 7 April, 2020, for return to Earth.


 Dragon-1 Fleet 

Since the first mission in May 2012 until the last in April 2020, Dragon-1 spent over 520 days attached to the space station, delivered over 95,000 pounds of cargo, and returned over 76,000 pounds back to Earth.

The longest Dragon-1 mission from launch to splashdown lasted 39 days, 11 hours and 3 minutes.

The 13 vehicles (Capsule C101 to C113) in the Dragon-1 fleet completed 20 missions to the ISS and two COTS test missions, of which one was to the ISS.

Of the 13 capsules, 3 capsules made 3 missions each, 3 capsules made 2 missions each and the remaining 7 made a single mission.

On 1 December, 2022, a twice-flown Dragon Capsule C113 arrived at the Museum of Science and Industry (MSI) in Illinois, Chicago for its permanent exhibit.

Capsule C113 was flown twice to the International Space Station; on the CRS-12 and CRS-19 missions in 2017 and 2019 respectively…

The Dragon will join other historic spacecraft in the museum’s Henry Crown Space Centre when it debuts on public display in the spring of 2023.



An upgraded version of Dragon-1, the second generation Dragon spacecraft was developed as a reusable spacecraft to transport cargo and crew to the International Space Station and beyond.

Cargo Dragon was built to transport supplies to residents of the International Space Station. Once there, the Dragon capsules can remain stationed for months before making the return to Earth.

Crew Dragon was specifically designed to carry passengers into low earth orbit (LEO) and ferry NASA astronauts to and from the International Space Station.

View of Dragon docked at the International Space Station as seen from another Dragon…


Dragon-2 docks automatically with the ISS. Its launch payload mass is 6000 kg and return payload mass is 3000 kg. The crew variant is capable of carrying seven people to orbit and back.

Both Cargo Dragon and Crew Dragon were planned to be made similar in order to speed up development of Crew Dragon. The similarity feature would minimize the design effort and simplify the human-rating process, allowing systems critical to crew and space station safety to be fully tested on unmanned demonstration flights and cargo resupply missions.

The difference between the two is that Crew Dragon has passenger seats, SuperDraco abort engines for crew escape system, life support system and cockpit controls that allow the crew to take control from the flight computer when needed.

All Crew and Cargo Dragon missions are launched from the historic LC-39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Centre in Florida.

Dragon atop a Falcon 9 at LC-39A (right) and another Falcon 9 at SLC-40 (left)…

But in the future, SpaceX’s new Starship rocket will be launched from LC-39A. Hence SLC-40 is going to be outfitted for Dragon launches, starting first with Cargo Dragon before moving on to Crew Dragon.

Starship, once operational, will be the world’s first fully reusable and most powerful transportation system ever designed to carry both crew and cargo to Earth orbit, the Moon, Mars and beyond.

Following the retirement of Dragon-1 and the start of Dragon-2 operations, SpaceX decided to move all splashdowns to the Atlantic Ocean.

The parachute system was fully redesigned from the one used in Dragon-1 capsules in order to deploy the parachutes under a variety of launch abort scenarios.

Dragon-2 has four parachutes to make a slow descent in the sea. It makes a splashdown either in the Atlantic Ocean (east of Florida) or the Gulf of Mexico, where it is recovered by SpaceX ships and returned to land for re-use.

After cleaning and refurbishment, the Dragon capsules are flown on future missions. They are reusable for a minimum five missions.

The first crewed Dragon flight took place on 30 May, 2020.

Cargo Dragon made its debut on the CRS-21 cargo resupply mission to the ISS in December 2020 under the new and operational NASA Commercial Resupply Services-2 (CRS-2) contract.

Like its predecessor, Dragon-2 spacecraft comprises a reusable capsule and an expendable trunk, which together stand around 26.7 feet (8.1m) tall, with a diameter of 13 feet (4m).


Dragon Capsule

The Dragon capsule, also known as the pressurized section, allows for the transport of people as well as environmentally sensitive cargo.

Astronauts aboard the Internal Space Station have to enter the spacecraft to carry cargo, so even Cargo Dragon has a habitable cabin with air circulation, fire detection and suppression, lights, pressure control, and pressure and humidity monitoring.



Draco is SpaceX’s smallest rocket engine used as Reaction Control System (RCS) for attitude control and manoeuvring on Falcon 9 rockets and Dragon spacecraft.

Like Dragon-1, both Cargo and Crew Dragon are equipped with Draco thrusters (small engines fired in space), which are hypergolic liquid-propellant engines using a mixture of monomethyl hydrazine fuel and nitrogen tetroxide oxidizer.

Hypergolic propellants are fuels and oxidizers that ignite spontaneously on contact with each other and require no ignition source. The easy start and restart capability of hypergols make them ideal for spacecraft manoeuvring systems. Moreover, these storable propellants have very long on-orbit lifetimes for Dragon to remain berthed at the ISS for a year or more, ready to serve as an emergency “lifeboat” if necessary.

Each Draco is capable of producing 90 pounds (400 Newtons) of force in the vacuum of space.

The Draco thrusters are as important to Dragon as the large Merlin engines are to Falcon 9.

Dragon-2 is equipped with 16 Draco thrusters, placed four in each of the four engine pods of the capsule. They are fired for making orbital manoeuvres, attitude control, and to initiate Dragon’s approach and berthing with the International Space Station (ISS) and also its return to Earth.


Unlike Dragon-1, the second-generation Dragon-2 can dock to the ISS and other space habitats autonomously – that is, without requiring the help of a robotic arm or without having to be guided in by a human.

Dragon-2 is capable of fully autonomous rendezvous and docking to the ISS with manual override ability, using the NASA Docking System (NDS).

It is equipped with GPS sensors. The nosecone has cameras and imaging sensors such as Lidar (laser ranging) which measure the distance and speed of the spacecraft as it approaches the space station. The data is then transmitted to the flight computer, which uses algorithms that determine – based on the data – how to fire the thrusters to most effectively get to the docking target.



In the unlikely event of an emergency on the pad or during the climb to orbit, the Crew Dragon capsule has eight side-mounted SuperDraco engines clustered in pairs in four engine pods, which provide fault-tolerant propulsion for Dragon’s launch escape system (LES).

The SuperDraco abort engine is an advanced version of the Draco. It uses the same storable or non-cryogenic hypergolic propellant as the Draco, but it is much larger and delivers roughly 100 times the thrust of the Draco.

SuperDraco is the first space-going engine built entirely by a 3D printer and is made out of a single piece of metal, the high-strength alloy Inconel.

Each SuperDraco can produce 16,400 pounds of force for launch aborts.

Fired together at full throttle, the eight SuperDraco engines can move the spacecraft 0.5 miles – the length of over seven American football fields line up end to end – in 7.5 seconds, reaching a peak velocity of 436 mph.

Parachutes are then deployed to bring the astronauts down safely.

Crew Dragon is designed to be “two-fault tolerant”. So even if any two things fail, such as a flight computer and a thruster, the spacecraft can still bring the crew home safely.


PICA-X Heat Shield

Dragon has the world’s most powerful heat shield – SpaceX’s high performance PICA (Phenolic Impregnated Carbon Ablator)-X heat shield, which is located at the base of the capsule.

The returning capsule enters Earth’s atmosphere at around 7 kilometres per second (15,660 miles per hour), heating the exterior of the shield to up to 1,850 degrees Celsius. Just a few inches of the PICA-X material keeps the interior of the capsule at room temperature.

Designed and developed in-house by SpaceX, the heat shield material is rigid, lightweight and ablative: it slowly burns away at high temperatures to carry away much of the extreme heat.



Dragon trunk

Dragon’s trunk not only carries unpressurized cargo but also supports the spacecraft during ascent. It has solar panels, heat-removal radiators, space for cargo, and fins to provide aerodynamic stability during emergency aborts.

The deployable solar arrays present in Dragon-1 capsules were eliminated and are now built into the trunk itself. This increases volume space and reduces the number of mechanisms on the vehicle.

Half the trunk is covered in solar panels, which provide power to Dragon during flight and while on-station. The trunk remains attached to the capsule until shortly before re-entry into Earth’s atmosphere.


Dragon Launch & Splashdown

Falcon 9 launches Dragon to orbit following the same events as in satellite launches and returns to Earth.

Around 12 minutes after lift-off, the second stage separates from the Crew or Cargo Dragon spacecraft, and delivers it to orbit.

Crew Dragon separation:


Cargo Dragon separation:


Thereafter, Dragon performs a series of burns on its way to the ISS, reaching its destination at a targeted docking time…

After completing its stay at the ISS, Cargo Dragon departs for Earth with cargo. Crew Dragon departs with both crew and cargo.

The Dragon spacecraft first undocks and then performs departure burns with its Draco thrusters.

Dragon’s trunk is jettisoned following which the Draco thrusters make the de-orbit burn. Once Dragon’s de-orbit burn is complete, the nosecone is closed.

After passing through a fiery atmospheric re-entry phase, the Dragon capsule deploys dual drogue parachutes followed by four parachutes to slow its descent into the sea.

Dragon parachuting into the sea….

After splashdown, either in the Atlantic Ocean or the Gulf of Mexico, the capsule and crew/cargo is recovered by one of SpaceX’s two Dragon recovery ships stationed nearby…

Megan and Shannon are the two identical platform supply vessels equipped with a medical treatment facility, helipad, lifting frame and various control systems.

Under NASA requirements, recovery crews have to egress astronauts onto the recovery ship in the 60 minutes following splashdown, in all conditions.

Crew egress (or extraction) from the Dragon…

Dragon before launch and after launch…

Dragon is the only U.S. human-rated orbital transport spacecraft, the only reusable orbital crewed spacecraft and the only reusable orbital cargo spacecraft currently in operation.

SpaceX has built ten Dragon capsules, numbered C204 to C213. Of them three are operational Cargo Dragon capsules.

There are seven Crew Dragon capsules, of which four are operational and one is under construction. One capsule was destroyed and one was retired, each had flown once.

SpaceX recently decided to maintain a fleet of eight Dragon capsules in total – 5 Crew Dragon and 3 Cargo Dragon – and is targeting to reuse each Dragon capsule for about 15 flights.





SpaceX Cargo Dragon supplies cargo to the ISS under NASA’s Commercial Resupply Services-2 (CRS-2) contract.

Besides SpaceX’s reusable Dragon spacecraft, NASA also awarded the CRS-2 contract to Northrop Grumman’s single-use Cygnus spacecraft, and Sierra Nevada Corporation’s (now Sierra Space) Dream Chaser spacecraft (expected to make its debut after 2022).

SpaceX was originally awarded 12 operational resupply missions, additional 3 came later in October 2020.

The operational Cargo Dragon fleet comprises three vehicles: Capsule C208, Capsule 209 and Capsule 211.

Cargo Dragon made its debut on 6 December, 2020, on the first operational resupply mission to the ISS (CRS-21) under NASA’s CRS-2 program.

Capsule C208 was first used on the CRS-21 mission. It was reflown on the CRS-23 and CRS-25 missions.

Capsule 209 was first used on the CRS-22 mission in June 2021. It flew with a heat shield from the Crew Demo-2 mission. It was the first time that a Dragon heat shield was reused. The capsule was reflown on the CRS-24 mission.

Capsule 211 was first used on CRS-26 mission in November 2022.

On 29 August 2021, SpaceX announced a new feature called Extenda-Lab installed in the Cargo Dragon, which will act as a laboratory in the advancement of science and research. It allows some powered payloads to remain on Dragon for experimentation during the duration of the mission. This is especially helpful with limited to no space on the ISS for additional projects and also saves the time taken to move payloads in and out of Dragon.

In March 2022, NASA awarded SpaceX six more cargo missions under the CRS-2 contract, to deliver supplies and equipment to the ISS through 2026.

So, 15 missions in total since the first one. The 15th mission will be CRS-35.

Till date, SpaceX has successfully delivered and returned cargo to and from the ISS on six missions since December 2020: CRS-21, CRS-22, CRS-23, CRS-24, CRS-25 and CRS-26.




Following the retirement of its Space Shuttle fleet in 2011, NASA started supporting several American space companies including SpaceX, who were working towards developing a replacement to succeed the crew orbital transportation capabilities of the Space Shuttle to fly NASA astronauts to the ISS, and restore the United States’ ability to conduct manned flights.

Then, in May 2014, Elon Musk introduced Crew Dragon to the world during an event at SpaceX’s headquarters in Hawthorne, California.

In September 2014, NASA selected the proposals of SpaceX and Boeing for developing systems to provide crew transportation to and from the ISS, under its Commercial Crew Program.

SpaceX’s proposal at US$ 2.6 billion was least expensive against Boeing’s US$ 4.2 billion, but Boeing’s proposal was considered stronger.

NASA hoped to have SpaceX’s Crew Dragon and Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft flying by 2017, but technical and funding issues pushed the timeline back by several years.

SpaceX was certified by NASA for crew transportation in November 2020. As part of the missions, SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft and Falcon 9 rocket transport up to four astronauts, along with critical cargo, to the space station. Crew Dragon has already flown five operational crewed missions to the ISS, whereas Boeing’s Starliner has yet to make its first crewed test mission due to various technical setbacks.

So Crew Dragon is the only orbital space transportation available to fly NASA astronauts and space tourists from American soil.

Till date, Crew Dragon has successfully delivered thirty people to orbit across eight missions since May 2020, when it first sent two astronauts to the ISS on the Crew Demo-2 mission for NASA. The eight missions include six for NASA – Crew Demo-2, Crew-1, Crew-2, Crew-3, Crew-4 and Crew-5 – and two civilian missions.

Crew Dragon is the first private spacecraft and also the only reusable spacecraft in the world to take humans to and from the International Space Station and beyond. It can also carry cargo in its unpressurized trunk.

It is also the only U.S. human-rated orbital crewed spacecraft and the only reusable orbital crewed spacecraft currently in operation. Its main role is to transport crews to and from the ISS under NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.

It can carry up to seven passengers to and from Earth orbit, and beyond. But for NASA missions, only four seats are used.


Crew Dragon Interiors

Crew Dragon combines substance with style, so it’s more like flying business class compared to the cramped interiors of spacecraft of the past and present.

The capsule has a minimalist interior design with white walls and bucket seats, flat-panel displays and four windows offering outside views.

Designed to carry seven passengers, seats are arranged for four in the front and three in the back. The thin, sturdy, contoured seats are made from the highest-grade carbon fibre and Alcantara cloth. There are three different seat sizes with foam that is moulded to an individual’s body.

Instead of analogue buttons and dials in the cockpits of previous vehicles such as the Space Shuttle, Crew Dragon has sleek touchscreens. Its advanced cockpit design is complete with modern human interfaces.

Above the four passenger seats, there is a three-screen control panel, a toilet (with privacy curtain), and the docking hatch.

Crew Dragon is fully autonomous, but the commander and pilot can monitor and control the spacecraft using the three large touchscreen displays.

In the middle of the console, there’s a joystick for flying the spacecraft and some physical buttons for essential functions that the crew could press in case of an emergency or a malfunctioning touchscreen.

With four windows, passengers can take in views of Earth, the Moon, and the wider Solar System right from their seats.

Earth view from Dragon’s window…

View of another Dragon arriving to the ISS…

On space tourism missions, the capsule docking adapter used for docking with the International Space Station, is replaced by a domed plexiglass window offering 360-degree view of Earth and the outer space.

The dome’s first use was on the world’s first all-civilian crewed Inspiration4 mission in September 2021.


Crew Safety System

The SuperDraco abort engines are part of Dragon’s integrated pusher launch escape system (LES), which is a built-in crew safety system for abort possibilities from launch pad to orbit. It can quickly separate Dragon from Falcon 9.

In the unlikely event of an emergency on the pad or during the climb to orbit, the launch escape system will fire all eight SuperDraco engines at full power to propel the capsule and its crew away from the rocket.


SpaceX Spacesuit

SpaceX’s spacesuit is meant for use during flights inside Crew Dragon, not for spacewalks. A one-piece suit, it is custom-made for each astronaut.

Two SpaceX mannequins launched to orbit, Ripley (the mannequin aboard the uncrewed Crew Demo-1 mission) and Starman (the mannequin behind the wheel of Elon Musk’s Tesla Roadster launched on the first Falcon Heavy rocket launch mission in February 2018) were also dressed in a custom-made SpaceX spacesuit.

The spacesuit (also called “Starman suit”) is the work of legendary Hollywood costume designer Jose Fernandez, known for costumes in blockbusters such as “Wonder Woman,” “Wolverine,” “Batman vs. Superman” and “Captain America: Civil War.”

Functional and lightweight, the spacesuits’ main purpose is to protect crew members from fire or rapid cabin depressurization, where air is lost from the capsule. It ensures the crew have sufficient oxygen and regulates their temperature.

A single “umbilical” cable in the seat that plugs in to the suit’s thigh enables life support systems, including air and power connections.

The suits are interactive with the large computer panels used by astronauts to monitor Dragon systems and navigate to the International Space Station.

The helmets are 3D-printed with microphones inside, while the gloves are touchscreen-sensitive.


Crew Dragon flight tests prior to NASA human-spaceflight certification…

The Commercial Crew Program contracts called for at least one crewed flight test with at least one NASA astronaut aboard and required SpaceX to conduct at least two, and as many as six crewed missions to the space station once Crew Dragon received NASA human spaceflight certification.

SpaceX planned a series of four flight tests for the Crew Dragon: a “pad abort” test, an uncrewed orbital flight to the ISS (Crew-Demo-1), an in-flight abort test, and finally a 14-day crewed demonstration mission to the ISS (Crew Demo-2).


Pad Abort test

The first key flight test of Crew Dragon, The Pad Abort test was conducted successfully on 6 May, 2015, at SpaceX’s SLC-40 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida.

The test vehicle “DragonFly” was a Dragon-1/Dragon-2 hybrid – it was a modified Dragon-1 pressure vessel equipped with SuperDraco thrusters.

It was the first flight test of SpaceX’s revolutionary launch abort system in a possible emergency.

By November 2015, SpaceX had test-fired the Crew Dragon propulsion module 27 times and the SuperDraco engines individually over 300 times, to refine the Crew Dragon design for human transportation to the International Space Station.

Dragon was tested for its hovering abilities at SpaceX’s testing facility in McGregor, Texas:



First Demonstration (Crew Demo-1) Mission

On 2 March, 2019, Falcon 9 launched Crew Dragon on its first orbital test mission, the uncrewed “Crew Demo-1” mission, from the historic LC-39A at the Kennedy Space Centre in Cape Canaveral, Florida.

In place of NASA astronauts, the uncrewed mission carried a mannequin Ripley (named after Sigourney Weaver’s character in the “Alien” movies franchise) dressed in a custom-made SpaceX spacesuit with a plush toy “Little Earth” serving as zero-g indicator (toys to indicate to the still strapped-into-their-seats crew members that they have entered orbit and are in free fall around Earth) and approximately 400 lb (180 kg) of supplies and equipment.

The flight was intended to certify the Crew Dragon to carry humans, demonstrating on-orbit operation of avionics, communications, telemetry, life support, electrical, and propulsion systems, as well as the guidance, navigation, control (GNC) systems.

On its flight to the International Space Station, Dragon executed a series of burns that positioned the vehicle progressively closer to the station before it executed final docking manoeuvres, followed by pressurization of the vestibule, hatch opening, and crew ingress (entry). Docking took place on 3 March, the day following its launch to orbit.

The Crew Demo-1 test mission made Dragon the first American spacecraft to autonomously dock with the International Space Station.

The capsule spent five days docked to ISS before undocking and making a splashdown in the Atlantic Ocean on 8 March, 2019.

Dragon became the first American spacecraft to autonomously dock with the International Space Station and safely return to Earth.

The successful Crew Demo-1 mission demonstrated SpaceX’s capabilities to safely and reliably fly astronauts to and from the space station as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. And with that, Dragon got qualified for a crewed “Crew Demo-2” mission.

The historic capsule was planned to be reused in June 2019 for the In-Flight Abort test, which was the final flight test before flying NASA astronauts on Crew Demo-2 mission. But on 20 April, 2019, the capsule was destroyed in an explosion during static fire testing at the Landing Zone-1 facility. The explosion and investigation delayed the In-Flight Abort test and the subsequent crewed orbital test.


In-Flight Abort test

By September 2019, SpaceX had completed over 700 tests of Crew Dragon’s SuperDraco engines.

Full duration static fire test of Crew Dragon’s SuperDraco engines…

The In-Flight Abort test of Crew Dragon’s launch escape capabilities was launched on 19 January, 2020, from LC-39A at Kennedy Space Centre in Florida.

The abort sequence was initiated approximately one and a half minutes after Falcon 9-Crew Dragon lifted off.

Crew Dragon’s eight SuperDraco engines powered the spacecraft away from Falcon 9 at speeds of over 400 mph.

Following separation, Dragon’s trunk was released and Dragon’s two drogue or funnel-shaped parachutes were deployed to stabilize the spacecraft following re-entry. Then, four upgraded Mark III parachutes were deployed to further decelerate the spacecraft prior to landing.

Dragon safely splashed down in the Atlantic Ocean and was successfully recovered by a SpaceX ship.

The In-Flight Abort test demonstrated Crew Dragon’s ability to reliably carry crew to safety in the unlikely event of an emergency on the launch pad or at any point during ascent.


Preparation for Crew Demo-2 mission…

Crew Demo-2 mission was SpaceX’s second spaceflight test of its Crew Dragon and its first test with astronauts on board. It was the final major test for SpaceX’s human spaceflight system to be certified by NASA for regular crew flights to and from the International Space Station as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.

Dragon leaving the SpaceX factory for the Crew Demo-2 mission…

The test mission was an end-to-end demonstration of SpaceX’s crew transportation system, including launch, in-orbit, docking and landing operations.

With the Crew Demo-2 mission, a new era of human spaceflight was set to begin as American astronauts once again launched on an American rocket from American soil to low-Earth orbit for the first time since the retirement of the Space Shuttle Program in 2011.

Since then, NASA was completely dependent on Russian Soyuz vehicles to carry its astronauts to and from the space station.

NASA astronauts Robert “Bob” Behnken and Douglas “Doug” Hurley, were the first two crew members chosen to ride Crew Dragon on this historic mission to and from the International Space Station.

As the first humans assigned to fly on Crew Dragon, both NASA astronauts, who had previously flown on Space Shuttle missions, worked closely with SpaceX, and provided vital input to get the capsule ready for its historic launch.

SpaceX had completed numerous tests of Crew Dragon’s enhanced Mark 3 parachute design to provide a safe landing back on Earth for astronauts returning from the International Space Station.

Additionally, SpaceX and NASA jointly executed a series of mission simulations from launch and docking to departure and landing, an end-to-end demonstration of pad rescue operations, and a fully integrated test of critical crew flight hardware on the Demo-2 Crew Dragon spacecraft with Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley participating in their Demo-2 spacesuits.

SpaceX was returning human spaceflight to the United States with one of the safest, most advanced systems ever built, and NASA’s Commercial Crew Program was a turning point for America’s future in space exploration.

To mark the return of human spaceflight on American rockets from American soil, NASA revived their worm logo for Demo-2.

The Crew Demo-2 mission was to be launched on 27 May, 2020, from the historic LC-39A at Kennedy Space Centre in Florida. But due to weather conditions at the launch site, it was postponed to 30 May 2020.


Second Demonstration (Crew Demo-2) Mission

On 30 May, 2020, while the entire world was in the grips of the coronavirus pandemic, SpaceX launched its historic Crew Demo-2 test mission, the first flight of astronauts aboard Crew Dragon.

For the first time in history, NASA astronauts launched from American soil in a privately-built and operated American crew spacecraft to the International Space Station.

Lifting off at 3:22 p.m. EDT on a Falcon 9 rocket, Crew Dragon flawlessly sent NASA’s veteran test pilots Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley dressed in SpaceX spacesuit to the International Space Station on a two-month stay.

It was the most memorable moment for 18-year-old SpaceX, who had finally realized its mission of restoring human spaceflight to the United States.

“This is a dream come true for me and everyone at SpaceX,” said Elon Musk. “It is the culmination of an incredible amount of work by the SpaceX team, by NASA and by a number of other partners in the process of making this happen. You can look at this as the results of a hundred thousand people roughly when you add up all the suppliers and everyone working incredibly hard to make this day happen.”

On reaching orbit, the two Demo-2 crew members named the Crew Dragon capsule C206 “Endeavour”.

The capsule autonomously docked to the International Space Station the next day, on the 31st of May.

On 2 August, Crew Dragon undocked and made a successful splashdown in the Atlantic Ocean. It was the United States’ first crewed splashdown since the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project in 1975.



Appreciation from NASA…

SpaceX has worked closely with NASA since 2006 with a mission to fly people to space.

 NASA’s policy of “setting only a high-level requirement for cargo transport to the space station, leaving the details to industry” allowed SpaceX to design and develop the Falcon 9 rocket on its own at a substantially lower cost.

As per NASA’s own independently verified numbers, SpaceX’s total development cost for the Falcon 9 rocket, including the Falcon 1 rocket, was estimated at US$390 million.

In 2011, NASA estimated that it would have cost the agency about US$4 billion to develop a rocket like the Falcon 9 booster based upon NASA’s traditional contracting processes.

In May 2020, NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine remarked that thanks to NASA’s investments into SpaceX, the United States had 70% of the commercial launch market.

“The investments that we have made into SpaceX and the investment SpaceX has made in itself have really resulted in I think something that is going to be very beneficial, not just for human space exploration, but beneficial for the economy,” he said during a press conference.

In 2019, the per-seat cost for SpaceX’s Crew Dragon was around $55 million, that’s around 65% and 55% lesser than the Russian Soyuz (then $85 million) and Boeing Starliner (projected at $90 million).

So SpaceX not only fulfilled NASA’s objective of launching American astronauts, from American soil, on an American launch vehicle since the final flight of the Space Shuttle in 2011, but also did it at a very low cost.

The first commercial human spaceflight system for crew missions to and from the space station…

Following the smooth accomplishment of Crew Demo-2 test mission, in November 2020, NASA certified SpaceX Falcon 9 and SpaceX Crew Dragon as human spaceflight system for crew missions to and from the space station – becoming the first commercial system in history to achieve such designation.

It led to the start of the twice-a-year, operational crewed missions to the ISS under NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.

As part of the NASA crewed missions, Crew Dragon transports up to four astronauts, along with critical cargo to the ISS.

Crew Dragon is the only U.S. human-rated orbital transport spacecraft, the only reusable crewed spacecraft and the only reusable cargo spacecraft currently in operation to transport crews to and from the ISS under NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.

It is capable of carrying both NASA and commercial astronauts to destinations in low-Earth orbit, the Moon and beyond.

SpaceX offers paid crewed spaceflights on Crew Dragon for private individuals and awards them with Crew Dragon “Astronaut Wings” after their return.


SpaceX’s Crew-1 Mission, the first operational crewed mission for NASA…

On November 16, 2020, Falcon 9 launched Crew Dragon on the Crew-1 mission, its first six-month operational mission to the International Space Station. On board were NASA astronauts Mike Hopkins, Victor Glover and Shannon Walker, and Japan’s JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) astronaut Soichi Noguchi.

Crew Dragon “Resilience” created history as it launched its first operational crewed flight and also the first crewed night launch from the United States in over ten years.

Everything from launch to splashdown went smoothly as planned. Reliability proven, SpaceX not only became a major player in the human spaceflight arena, but also the only one providing astronauts with a luxury class flight.

Crew Dragon returned the Crew-1 astronauts to Earth on 2 May, 2021, with a splashdown in the Gulf of Mexico, marking the first night-time splashdown of a crewed US spacecraft since December 1968, when Apollo 8 splashed down in the Pacific Ocean.


Crew-2 Mission…

On 23 April, 2021, the Crew-2 mission was launched to the ISS with NASA astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur, European Space Agency (ESA)’s French astronaut Thomas Pesquet and JAXA astronaut Akihiko Hoshide aboard Crew Dragon “Endeavour”.

European Space Agency (ESA)’s French astronaut Thomas Pesquet became the first European astronaut to fly the Crew Dragon. He also became the first French commander of the ISS.

Crew-2 mission set a new record for the longest ever stay in space at 199 days. This is just 11 days below Crew Dragon’s minimum certification of 210 days.

As per NASA’s manual, a human-rated capsule must be capable of spending at least 210 days in orbit. SpaceX designed Crew Dragon for the 210-day limit i.e. the minimum amount of time, so it can stay for much longer too.

The length of stay also depends upon the solar panels, which generally degrade in the harsh environment of space.

The Crew-2 astronauts returned to Earth on 9 November, 2021, with Crew Dragon making a splashdown in the Gulf of Mexico.


Inspiration4 Mission, the first commercial orbital spaceflight…

On 16 September, 2021, SpaceX’s Crew Dragon “Resilience” made the first “all-civilian” orbital spaceflight in history.

For the first time, Crew Dragon was used for non-docking orbital space tourism.

The Inspiration4 mission was a historic milestone for SpaceX as Crew Dragon and the world’s first non-professional astronauts in space circled Earth for three days reaching an orbital altitude of about 590 km (367 miles), the highest achieved since a Hubble Space Telescope servicing mission in 1999 and the fifth-highest Earth orbital human spaceflight overall. It was a much higher view compared to the view astronauts receive on the ISS at about 400 km or 250 miles.

Inspiration4 was a “fund-raiser” mission, funded and commanded by Founder and CEO of Shift4Payments, Jared Isaacman, to raise charity for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee. His selected crew members were Christopher Sembroski, Sian Procter and Hayley Arceneaux.

A physician assistant at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and a paediatric cancer survivor, 29-year old Hayley Arceneaux became the first human in space with prosthetic leg bones and the youngest American to travel to space.

The four amateur astronauts were trained by SpaceX for six months. The training included lessons in orbital mechanics, operating in a microgravity environment, stress testing, emergency-preparedness training and mission simulations.

The crew had the advantage of a specially designed large domed window of the capsule, from where the four space travellers enjoyed unique images of the Earth for three days.

Their food differed from the usual of astronauts. They ate cold pizza, sandwiches, Bolognese spaghetti and even lamb. Some even watched movies on tablets before the descent to Earth began.

They also carried out scientific experiments during the flight. Above all, however, they proved that more and more people can reach space.

The mission ended successfully after 71 hours, with Dragon “Resilience” making a splashdown in the Atlantic Ocean.


Crew-3 Mission…

On 11 November, 2021, Crew-3 mission was launched to the ISS with NASA astronauts Raja Chari, Thomas Marshburn and Kayla Barron and ESA’s German astronaut Matthias Maurer aboard Crew Dragon “Endurance”.

Dragon “Endurance” and its crew returned to Earth on 6 May, 2022, with a splashdown in the Gulf of Mexico.


Ax-1 Mission, the first all-civilian commercial flight to the ISS

On 9 April, 2022, SpaceX and its Crew Dragon created space history yet again with the first all-civilian commercial mission to the ISS.

Ax-1 was the first of several private crewed missions to the ISS, contracted by Axiom Space, a privately-owned space company from Houston, Texas.

It was the first non-government, fully commercial flight to the ISS carrying a retired NASA astronaut Michael López-Alegría, who now works for Axiom space and three wealthy civilians – Eytan Stibbe, a former Israeli fighter pilot, Larry Connor, an American technology entrepreneur, and Mark Pathy, a Canadian investor.

In the past, a number of wealthy private citizens have travelled to the ISS aboard the Russian Soyuz spacecraft, but they were always accompanied by Russian cosmonauts.

On this mission, even though Ax-1 coordinated with NASA and ISS officials, its crew members were all private citizens.

Crew Dragon “Endeavour” docked to the Harmony module’s space-facing international docking adapter…

Crew Dragon and its civilian crew returned to Earth on 25 April, 2022, with a splashdown in the Atlantic Ocean.



Crew-4 Mission…

On 27 April, 2022, the Crew-4 mission launched to the ISS with NASA astronauts Kjell Lindgren, Robert Hines, Jessica Watkins and ESA’s Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti aboard a new Crew Dragon “Freedom”.

Dragon “Freedom” completed its first flight, returning the Crew-4 astronauts to Earth on 14 October, 2022, with a splashdown in the Atlantic Ocean.


Crew-5 Mission…

The Crew-5 mission to the ISS launched on 5 October, 2022, with NASA astronauts Nicole Mann and Josh Cassada, JAXA’s Koichi Wakata and Russia’s Roscosmos astronaut Anna Kikina aboard Crew Dragon “Endurance”.

Anna Kikina not only became the first Russian to fly to the ISS aboard Crew Dragon, but also the first Russian to fly a US vehicle from US soil in two decades.


Crew Dragon Fleet

There are seven Crew Dragon capsules, of which four are operational and one is under construction. One capsule was destroyed during testing and one was retired, each was flown once.

The vehicles can fly on at least 5 missions. Of the four active vehicles, one has already flown thrice.

NASA allowed astronauts to fly on reused Crew Dragon capsules – and Falcon 9 boosters – after SpaceX completed its third Crew Dragon launch to the ISS.

Capsule 204, the first produced vehicle, was launched on the Crew Demo-1 test mission in March 2019 and was supposed to be reused on the In-Flight Abort test, but it was destroyed during ground testing, weeks after the Crew Demo-1 mission.

Capsule 205 was used for the In-Flight Abort test in January 2020. Later, it was retired.

Capsule 206 was launched on the Crew Demo-2 test mission and was named “Endeavour” by the crew after Space Shuttle Endeavour. It flew again on the Crew-2 mission in April 2021, and became the first Crew Dragon to be reused. It flew for the third time on the Axiom-1 mission in April 2022.

Capsule C207 was launched on Crew-1 mission in November 2020 and named by the crew as “Resilience”. The capsule has stronger outer panels that will allow it to land in harsher winds, and is the first Crew Dragon to be able to dock at another ISS port with IDA-3 (Node 2 zenith). SpaceX also made some improvements to the heat shield based on findings from the Crew Demo-2 mission.

The capsule was reused on the first all-civilian Inspiration4 mission in September 2021. it was equipped with a glass cupola to provide better views of Earth while in orbit. The cupola replaced the docking mechanism, which is required only for missions flying to the ISS.

Capsule C210 was launched on the Crew-3 mission in November 2021. It was named “Endurance” by the crew. The capsule has a reused nose cone and is a highly improvised version incorporating upgrades to the toilet, docking procedures, computer performance during re-entry, parachutes, etc.

It has been reused on the Crew-5 mission, and is currently docked to the space station.

Capsule C212, with a used heat shield structure but new thermal protection tiles (TPS), was launched on the Crew-4 mission in April 2022. It was named “Freedom”.


Normally, Crew Dragon remains docked to the ISS for a period of 180 days, but it is designed to remain on the space station for a minimum of 210 days.

SpaceX aims to launch up to 6 Crew Dragon missions per year for NASA and private customers. Having ferried 30 people to orbit and back across eight missions, Crew Dragon has surpassed NASA’s Gemini spacecraft, which delivered 20 astronauts. Now it’s closing on NASA’s Apollo capsule’s record of 45 astronauts. The Space Shuttle’s record of 355 astronauts remains out of reach and can be broken by SpaceX’s new Starship rocket after it becomes operational.

There won’t be any new Crew Dragons after the fifth one is built as SpaceX has considered it sufficient to rotate the reuse of the capsules already in existence to meet the company’s manifest of astronaut missions through the 2020s. The fifth and final Crew Dragon vehicle would be ready to fly for the first time in the 2024 timeframe.

SpaceX is targeting to reuse each Dragon capsule for about 15 flights, with caveats between missions such as swapping out “soft goods” and “a couple of hardware items” such as parachutes.



Crew Dragon’s future missions for NASA…

SpaceX’s future crewed missions to the ISS for NASA are Crew-6 in 2023, and Crew-7 in 2024. The dates for Crew-8 and Crew-9 missions have yet to be announced.

In September 2022, NASA awarded 5 additional Crew Dragon missions to SpaceX – Crew-10, Crew-11, Crew-12, Crew-13 and Crew-14, enabling the space agency to maintain an uninterrupted U.S. capability for human access to the ISS until 2030.


Polaris Program…

In February 2022, Jared Isaacman, who commanded the Inspiration4 mission, announced his Polaris Program, comprising three human spaceflight missions that will demonstrate new technologies, conduct extensive research, and ultimately culminate in the first flight of humans on board SpaceX’s new Starship rocket.

The first of Crew Dragon’s two missions to Low Earth Orbit (LEO) will fly in 2023. It will fly higher than any Dragon mission ever and aim to reach the highest Earth orbit ever flown.

The four civilian crew for the first mission will be Commander Jared “Rook” Isaacman, Pilot Scott “Kidd” Poteet, and two highly experienced SpaceX employees, Sarah Gillis and Anna Menon as mission specialists.

Crew Dragon and the Polaris Dawn crew will spend up to five days in orbit, during which the crew will attempt the first-ever commercial spacewalk. SpaceX’s extravehicular spacesuit, upgraded from the current intravehicular suit, will make its debut on this mission.

In September 2022, NASA and SpaceX signed an unfunded Space Act Agreement to study the feasibility of a SpaceX and Polaris Program idea to boost the Hubble Space Telescope into a higher orbit with the Dragon spacecraft, at no cost to the government.

SpaceX – in partnership with the Polaris Program – proposed this study to better understand the technical challenges associated with servicing missions, which would help in expanding space capabilities to ultimately help in making humanity a space-faring, multi-planetary civilization.

The Hubble Space Telescope, a project of international cooperation between NASA and ESA (European Space Agency), is managed by NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Centre in Greenbelt, Maryland.

Hubble has been operating since 1990, about 335 miles above Earth in an orbit that is slowly decaying over time. Reboosting Hubble into a higher, more stable orbit could add multiple years of operations to its life. At the end of its lifetime, NASA plans to safely de-orbit or dispose it.


Axiom Space missions…

The Ax-2 mission is planned to launch Saudi Arabia’s first two astronauts to the ISS on a weeklong stay in early 2023. One of the two Saudi astronauts on this flight will be a woman, who would become the first female Arab astronaut. The Saudi astronauts will join two previously announced Americans, retired NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson and race car driver and investor John Shoffner,

The Ax-3 mission will launch Turkey’s first two astronauts into space in late 2023. The date for Ax-4 mission has yet to be announced.

The Axiom Space missions are intended to help pave the way to a privately-operated space lab owned by the company. In the future, Crew Dragon will also be used to shuttle tourists to and from Axiom Space’s planned space station, planned for late 2024.




In March 2020, NASA contracted SpaceX to develop a new variant of Dragon, the Dragon XL as a resupply spacecraft for its planned Lunar Gateway space station under a Gateway Logistics Services (GLS) contract.

The contract award is a significant step forward for NASA’s Artemis program that will land the first woman and next man on the Moon by 2024 and build a sustainable human lunar presence.

Dragon XL is planned to launch on a Falcon Heavy rocket, and is able to transport over 5,000 kg (11,000 lb) to the Gateway. Dragon XL will be docked at the Gateway for six to twelve months at a time.




This post is part of my 6-part blog series which covers the phenomenal rise of

SpaceX – the world’s no.1 aerospace company and manufacturer.

The series published on 01.01.2023 comprise the following posts:

Discovering SpaceX

Discovering SpaceX: Falcon Rocket Family

Discovering SpaceX: Fleet of Recovery Ships

Discovering SpaceX: Dragon Spacecraft

Discovering SpaceX: Starlink Satellite Constellation

Discovering SpaceX: Super Heavy Starship


I’d appreciate your sharing my Discovering SpaceX blog series not only with your family and friends but also with your fans and followers on social media 🙂

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