On Monday, Elon Musk tweeted a photo of SpaceX’s crew dragon spacecraft — the vessel that will hopefully carry astronauts into space someday soon. The sleek exterior shot shows just how much the ship has evolved over a short period of time.
SpaceX is building the Crew Dragon for NASA astronauts, in order to carry them to and from the International Space Station (ISS). While the timeline here is still a little ambiguous, Musk’s most recent image shows the company could be testing the spacecraft soon. Hopefully.
The SpaceX founder’s tweet shows the Crew Dragon in an anechoic chamber at NASA’s Plum Brook Station in Cleveland, Ohio. The super soundproof room is the perfect setting for this futuristic-looking spacecraft to shine:
A lot has led up to this moment. SpaceX fans first got a taste of the Crew Dragon back in September 2015, when the company dropped photos of the capsule’s interior. On the inside, the spacecraft looks like a fancy gym that has organic lotions in the bathroom. So luxurious! So spacecrafty!
An accompanying video — which looks more like promo for a nightclub than a spacecraft — gave an unprecedented look at the ship’s various dashboards and seats.
In an animated video released by SpaceX around the same time, the Crew Dragon whizzes outside Earth’s atmosphere while “astronauts” banter about the view. It’s in this video where we get a glimpse at the Crew Dragon’s exterior, or at least what SpaceX engineers thought it would look like.
It’s pretty clear that the spacecraft’s outside went through some design changes over the last three years or so. The Crew Dragon looks a lot smoother in animated form, which makes sense:
The Crew Dragon’s immediate future is still a little unclear. On May 3, Musk tweeted that the spacecraft would ship to Cape Canaveral “in about three months,” signaling a demo mission could follow soon after. An uncrewed mission was planned for August 2018, followed by a crewed mission in December 2018. Due to various technical issues, it appears those launch dates are seriously up in the air.
We’ll be watching and waiting to see any Crew Dragon updates this summer.