SpaceX has announced that it has completed one of the key milestones on its quest to build a ship that can take astronauts into space and to the ISS. The first milestone was a design review of the SpaceX Dragon spacecraft's emergency escape system. This is the first step towards manned missions into space.
NASA has approved the design and this is the fourth milestone met so far by SpaceX. The design review was conducted under the Commercial Crew Development program and is part of the push to privatize space. The Dragon spacecraft is designed to carry seven astronauts at a cost of $20 million per seat. The design approval means that SpaceX can now start to build the hardware for the launch abort system.
The system has escape engines on the side walls of the dragon that activate in an emergency and eliminate the need for traditional rocket escape towers that have to be jettisoned each time. Eventually the engines on the side of the Dragon will be used for more than emergencies. The engines will allow the Dragon to land with pinpoint accuracy anywhere on Earth or other planets.