Musk Reads: SpaceX's Crew Dragon Gets Tested

The Starship plans its next major jump; the Crew Dragon’s coverage wins an Emmy; and SpaceX puts the capsule through its paces.

The Starship plans its next major jump; the Crew Dragon’s coverage wins an Emmy; and SpaceX puts the capsule through its paces. It’s Musk Reads: SpaceX Edition #104.

A version of this article appeared in the “Musk Reads” newsletter. Sign up for free here.

Musk Quote of the Week

“🚀♥️ Starship Team ♥️🚀“

SpaceX Starship

The Starship is getting ready to fly. SpaceX has filed plans with the Federal Communications Commission to communicate with the Mk 1 vehicle from the company’s Texas facility, enabling a future orbital flight. New documents also show the company has filed for permission to fly up to 22.5 kilometers, or 74,000 feet, into the air and land a few hundred feet from where it started. The planned flight, expected around October, follows a successful launch of the smaller “Starhopper” ship that flew 150 meters last month. The plans come as a different set of documents show a three-phase plan for Starship development. Although it’s unclear whether SpaceX is following the three-phase plan finalized in May, it suggests the third phase would send the vehicle up to 100 kilometers in the air, around the same position as the Kármán line that marks the start of space. Read more.

The Mk 1 prototype has received its final steel tank dome. Teslarati reports that the third and final tank dome was lifted onto the prototype on September 14, placing the finishing touches on the rocket ahead of the September 28 presentation. The publication suggests this means internal, large plumbing components have now been fitted. SpaceX plans to use the final vehicle for ambitious missions, like a manned trip around the moon and starting a city on Mars.

This week also marks the one-year anniversary of the “Dear Moon” announcement. Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa plans to take a team of six to eight passengers around the moon using the Starship. Maezawa resigned as CEO of his fashion firm Zozo last week, in part to prepare for the mission set to take place in 2023. Maezawa also suggested he could go on a smaller, less ambitious mission ahead of the final launch.

In Other SpaceX News…

The first Crew Dragon flight has won an Emmy award, a big recognition of how social media and live video are popularizing this new era of spaceflight. “Demo-1,” an uncrewed mission that took off in March, was the first flight for SpaceX’s capsule designed to ferry humans to and from the International Space Station. The mission carried cargo to the station, plus a dummy called “Ripley” fitted with sensors. The Emmy for interactive programming recognized how the agency and company publicized the mission with live video and social media interaction. The agency plans to use SpaceX and Boeing to ferry astronauts instead of using Russian Soyuz rockets. The Commercial Crew program working on the project has a big fanbase, with nearly 90,000 Twitter followers. NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine marked the occasion by writing on Twitter: “Congrats to all involved and those who help tell the NASA story every day!”

The Crew Dragon is getting put through its pacesEach capsule is fitted with eight engines, and SpaceX claims the setup can move the whole capsule half a mile in 7.5 seconds when all fired together. That’s equivalent to a peak velocity that reaches 436 mph. SpaceX revealed last week that the capsule’s SuperDraco engines have completed over 700 tests. Each capsule is fitted with eight engines, and the company claims the setup can move the whole capsule half a mile in 7.5 seconds when all fired together. It results in a peak velocity of 436 mph. SpaceX is currently gearing up for an in-flight abort test before hosting a “Demo-2” manned mission. Read more.

Unfortunately, it seems the Crew Dragon will probably be used by professional astronauts. It was revealed last week that Bigelow is no longer planning to send tourists to the International Space Station using the capsule for the foreseeable future.

What’s next for SpaceX: SpaceX is expected to hold a presentation on September 28 at the Boca Chica facility in Texas, where it will explain more about next steps for the Starship. The event marks the anniversary of SpaceX’s first trip to orbit.

Originally scheduled for August 24, the event was delayed as Musk explained that it would “probably make sense to do this when Starship Mk 1 has 3 Raptors, moving body fins & landing gear installed.” Musk stated that he plans to meet community supporters around the presentation on the 28th.

Video of the Week

Crew Dragon tests in action.

The Elonporium

Subscribe to Inverse Loot and learn about these deals first.

The Ultra-Fine Print

This has been Musk Reads: SpaceX Edition #104, the weekly rundown of essential reading about futurist and entrepreneur Elon Musk. I’m Mike Brown, an innovation journalist for Inverse.

A version of this article appeared in the “Musk Reads” newsletter. Sign up for free here.