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SpaceX Unveils Reusable ISS 'Taxi' for 7 Astronauts: VIDEO

Musk

Elon Musk last night revealed the new SpaceX reusable craft for seven astronauts which he hopes will ferry them back and forth to the International Space Station one day.

Dragonv2Private companies are vying for contracts from NASA for the taxis, which will hopefully reduce our reliance on Russia's space program.

Watch, AFTER THE JUMP...

TechCrunch writes:

The reason that this is really import,” said Musk, “is that it allows rapid reusability of the spacecraft. You just refill the propellant, and go again… Imagine if aircrafts were thrown away after each flight; no one could afford to fly.””

2_dragonv2SpaceX had previously shown Dragon V1, a smaller, unmanned version of this craft meant primarily for testing and, in a few cases, sending cargo back and forth to the International Space Station. Dragon V2 also has an improved heat shield, allowing it to better protect passengers on their return flight through the atmosphere.

The biggest single change to the design, though, is in the engines: where each of Dragon V1′s engines (the “Draco” engine) could produce about 100 pounds of thrust, each of the Dragon V2′s engines (the aptly dubbed “Super Draco” engines) can produce about 16,000 pounds of thrust. The particularly cool part? SpaceX says they’re actually 3d printing the engines out of a specialized metal alloy (called inconel), as opposed to more traditional manufacturing methods like milling.

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Drone Captures Stunning Close-Up of Elon Musk's Leaping Rocket: VIDEO

Grasshopper

Over the past year, we've been keeping tabs on Elon Musk's SpaceX Grasshopper rocket, which can take off and land vertically. The craft has now made its most impressive (and visually stunning) leap yet, thanks to a hexacopter drone which captured the rocket as it ascended and descended.

Grasshopper's leap this time was 2,440.94 feet.

SpaceX writes: "While most rockets are designed to burn up on atmosphere reentry, SpaceX rockets are being designed not only to withstand reentry, but also to return to the launch pad for a vertical landing. The Grasshopper VTVL vehicle represents a critical step towards this goal. Grasshopper consists of a Falcon 9 rocket first stage tank, Merlin 1D engine, four steel and aluminum landing legs with hydraulic dampers, and a steel support structure."

Watch, AFTER THE JUMP...

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Elon Musk's 'Hyperloop' Transport System, 3-D Printed: VIDEO

Musk

There has been a lot of talk about Elon Musk's Hyperloop public transportation concept that would shuttle folks from NYC to LA in under an hour. The folks at 3-D printing company showed off the amazing stuff 3-D printing can do by building a scale model based on images released by Musk.

In related news, 3-D printing company MakerBoy has just opened up pre-orders for the first consumer Digitizer Desktop 3D Scanner, a laser-equipped 3D scanner that allows you to easily convert real-life objects into 3D models. It retails for $1,400 and ships in mid-October.

Check both out, AFTER THE JUMP...

Makerbot

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Would You Like to Travel NYC to LA in Under an Hour? - VIDEO

Et3

The Next Web reports that Elon Musk is getting ready to unveil an 'alpha design' for his next big idea:

Entrepreneur and Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk will publish an “alpha design” for Hyperloop, an entirely new form of public transportation that is faster than the bullet train and potentially self-powering, on August 12.

Details about Hyperloop are slim, but it’s clear that as always Musk has lofty ambitions for the project. He has described it in the past as a “cross between a Concorde, a railgun and an air hockey table,” although that says little as to its form factor or underlying technology.

Yahoo! reports:

Musk, the man behind both Tesla Motors and SpaceX, has spoken about a high-speed transportation system known as the Hyperloop, a tube transport system that would allow passengers to travel at high speeds. The proposed system could reduce trips between San Francisco and Los Angeles to minutes, and reaching the East Coast from California could take under an hour. Crazy as it seems, the company ET3, based out of Longmont, Colorado, has already been hard at work making this a reality...

A video about the ET3 Evacuated Tube Transport, AFTER THE JUMP...

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SpaceX Grasshopper Rocket Makes Stunning New Leap, Landing: VIDEO

Grasshopper

Over the past year, we've been keeping tabs on Elon Musk's SpaceX Grasshopper rocket, which can take off and land vertically. The craft has now made its most impressive (and visually stunning) leap yet.

Watch the rocket's latest test, AFTER THE JUMP...

On June 14, SpaceX's Grasshopper flew 325 m (1066 feet)--higher than Manhattan's Chrysler Building--before smoothly landing back on the pad. For the first time in this test, Grasshopper made use of its full navigation sensor suite with the F9-R closed loop control flight algorithms to accomplish a precision landing. Most rockets are equipped with sensors to determine position, but these sensors are generally not accurate enough to accomplish the type of precision landing necessary with Grasshopper.

Previous Grasshopper tests relied on the other rocket sensors but for this test, an additional, higher accuracy sensor was in the control loop. In other words, SpaceX was directly controlling the vehicle based on new sensor readings, adding a new level of accuracy in sensing the distance between Grasshopper and the ground, enabling a more precise landing.

Grasshopper is a 10-story Vertical Takeoff Vertical Landing (VTVL) vehicle designed to test the technologies needed to return a rocket back to Earth intact.

Grasshopper2

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ISS Crew Meets The Dragon: VIDEO

SpaceXISS

A moment of minor historic import passed with little fanfare yesterday, when for the first time in the history of our species human beings exited a government space vehicle and entered a private one. This was the crew of the International Space Station entereing the Dragon resupply, designed, built, and launched by Elon Musk's SpaceX. 

Watching the video below, I was struck by the technical mastery required merely to get the capsule to adhere, sealed, to the side of the space station. How would one go about that? And watching astronauts open it, I wondered: What did it feel like? Was it cold from having been rushing so recently through the near-void? Was it hot? Was it vibrating? Were the astronauts nervous, leaving the comfort of their government-built capsule and floating into this thing designed by a crazy South African in Cali?

Wild stuff. Watch AFTER THE JUMP ...

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