SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said he would unveil the Dragon V2 spacecraft on May 29, and SpaceX will host a Dragon V2 Unveil live stream on Thursday starting at 10 p.m. EDT (7 p.m. PDT).
While the Dragon was designed for unmanned launches, the Dragon V2 was developed with NASA for manned missions. And Musk hopes that the spacecraft will end the United State's reliance on Russian launches and spacecraft for manned missions.
Meanwhile, SpaceX recently filed a lawsuit over spy satellite contracts; among the main arguments for SpaceX to be involved in the bidding process is the reliance on Russian-manufactured engines.
The United Launch Alliance, a joint venture between Lockheed Martin and Boeing, is the only certified company to handle Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) for the Department of Defense. But SpaceX said the contract should not have been awarded to ULA as the company was in the process of certification. ULA also uses the RD-180 engine, designed and manufactured by NPO Energomash, which is largely owned by the Russian government, in its Atlas V rockets, which are used for EELV launches.
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— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 29, 2014
On Twitter, SpaceX has been offering a sneak peak at the Dragon V2. In a new video, SpaceX reveals the SuperDraco engine, an advanced version of the Draco engine that currently powers the Dragon spacecraft. According to the company, "SuperDracos will be used on the crew version of the Dragon spacecraft as part of the vehicle's launch escape system; they will also enable propulsive landing on land. Each SuperDraco produces 16,000 pounds of thrust and can be restarted multiple times if necessary. In addition, the engines have the ability to deep throttle, providing astronauts with precise control and enormous power."
The SuperDraco engine completed qualification training in April and some components of the engine, including the engine chamber, were 3D printed. In a statement, Musk said, "Through 3D printing, robust and high-performing engine parts can be created at a fraction of the cost and time of traditional manufacturing methods." SpaceX also shared images of the Dragon V2's interior.
— SpaceX (@SpaceX) May 29, 2014
According to Musk, the Dragon V2 spacecraft that will be revealed on Thursday will be the "actual flight design hardware of crew Dragon, not a mockup."
The Dragon V2 unveil live stream begins at 10 p.m. EDT (7 p.m. PDT) and can be viewed below.