2012 | Year of the Dragon
Monday marked the start of the Year of the Dragon in the Chinese calendar and this year, SpaceX's Dragon will become the first privately developed spacecraft to visit the International Space Station.
Space travel is one of the most difficult of all human endeavors, and success is never a guarantee. This flight introduces a series of new challenges and new magnitudes of complexity; if even the smallest thing goes wrong, we will be forced to abort the mission.
What is guaranteed, however, is our commitment. There will be challenges along the way, but SpaceX will again make history and become the first private company to send a spacecraft to the Space Station. We take this responsibility very seriously and will not stop until we succeed.
Dragon is a spacecraft unlike any other. Not only is it the first privately developed spacecraft to successfully return from Earth orbit, but it is also the only reusable spacecraft designed for human transport in operation today. In the coming days, we'll take a closer look at some of Dragon's advanced technologies in celebration of the Year of the Dragon and the opening of a new era in space travel.
In the meantime, checkout out the interactive panorama below for a look inside Dragon in its cargo configuration, as it will be on its first mission to the International Space Station:
(click image to view interactive panorama--flash required)
At the top you have the hatch that will connect with the International Space Station. To the side is the hatch as well as racks and straps to hold cargo, which in our next mission will include several hundred pounds of astronaut provisions. And on the floor, just above the heat shield, is additional storage space behind metal doors that are shown both open and closed.