SpaceX Tweaks Dragon 2 Design, Nixes Propulsive Landings

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July 27, 2017 | Originally published by Date Line: July 27 on

SpaceX’s upgraded Dragon capsules will not return astronauts to Earth for powered landings as originally envisioned, company boss Elon Musk said Wednesday, a design change that raises questions about the space transport firm’s plans to send commercial landers to the surface of Mars.

Musk cited safety concerns for eliminating plans for propulsive Dragon landings in remarks at the International Space Station Research and Development Conference in Washington. He also said the original Dragon landing concept, in which four landing legs would extend from the base of the capsule’s heat shield as throttleable SuperDraco thrusters slowed the craft’s speed for touchdown, was not as useful as he initially thought for SpaceX’s plans to send humans to Mars.

“That was a tough decision,” Musk said in response to a question on the matter.