SpaceX Dragon Splashes Down with Crucial NASA Research Samples

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Anybody have a diagram that shows where the docking adapter is stashed in the dragon?

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It seems to be absent from a cursory search of the Internets…

Here’s a video of the IDA being unloaded from the SpaceX Dragon at the ISS, perhaps this helps visualize it…

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Thanks, Xeni! Your space coverage is one of my favorite things on the Boing.


Oh - I see, its in the back of the “service module” for lack of a better title.

I mistakenly thought the Dragon service module had a motor back there like the Apollo stack, but apparently not. That means Dragon relies on its capsule thrusters for all its orbital maneuvers, which is actually kind of impressive.

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That space is called the “trunk.” It’s the mount for the solar panels, but it’s mostly empty space otherwise, unless it’s used for unpressurized cargo like the IDA.

It’s discarded before re-entry and burns up in the atmosphere.

And yeah, all of Dragon’s on-orbit maneuvers including deorbit are done with the small hypergolic Draco thrusters on the capsule.

Apollo needed that big Service Module engine to break out of lunar orbit and come home. Coming back from LEO is much easier.

But Dragon v2, the new crew-carrying version, will have eight much bigger SuperDraco thrusters mounted in pods on its exteror that will allow it to land smoothly on land (on Earth or Mars!), and can be used as abort motors if something goes wrong with the rocket during launch.

See, f’rex, this video of the pad abort test:


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