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SpaceX Dragon V2 spacecraft produced at a fraction of NASA's cost

The first commercialy developed spacecraft for up to seven astronauts
Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

It's a perfect example how free-market capitalism works: SpaceX unveiled the first commercially developed and produced spacecraft Dragon Version 2 at the fraction of the cost NASA needs to develop such a vehicle.

A big crowd celebrated this major step of private ingenuity no government agency is able to compete with.

According to SpaceX, the Dragon spacecraft has three configurations to meet a variety of needs: cargo, crew and DragonLab. To ensure a rapid transition from cargo to crew capability, the cargo and crew configurations of Dragon are almost identical. This commonality simplifies the human rating process, allowing systems critical to crew and space station safety to be fully tested on unmanned cargo flights. With DragonLab, essentially the same spacecraft can be used as a platform for in-space technology demonstrations and experiments.

Dragon 1 was the first commercial spacecraft to deliver cargo to the International Space Station and currently the only cargo spacecraft flying capable of returning significant amounts of cargo to Earth. Dragon accommodates pressurized cargo in the capsule as well as unpressurized cargo in its trunk.

Technologically interesting is that the racks are a honeycomb carbon-aluminum construction designed for efficient packing in a zero-gravity environment. They accommodate a variety of standard-size NASA cargo bags as well as freezers for carrying materials such as biological samples.

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