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Gallery: Dragon, SpaceX's Private Spacecraft

SpaceX's Dragon Flight Vision

SpaceX depicts its Dragon spaceship's space station flight in an animation still.

Dragon Spacecraft Re-entering Earth's Atmosphere

SpaceX.

This still from a SpaceX animation depicts an unmanned Dragon spacecraft re-entering Earth's atmosphere ahead of a planned splashdown in the ocean.

SpaceX's Reusable Rocket: Three Steps

SpaceX

These three stills from a SpaceX video depict the three components of a planned fully reusable rocket launching system, including a first stage (left), second stage (center) and crew capsule.

Dragon Crew and Cargo Capsules

NASA

An artist's concept of SpaceX's Falcon 9 Launch Vehicle and Dragon crew and cargo capsules.

How SpaceX's Dragon Space Capsule Works (Infographic)

Karl Tate/SPACE.com

A look inside the SpaceX Dragon capsule and its Falcon 9 rocket.

Dragon Spacecraft Thermal Testing Preparations

Roger Gilbertson/SpaceX

In a SpaceX clean room in Hawthorne (Los Angeles) California, technicians prepare the Dragon spacecraft for thermal vacuum chamber testing. The open bays will hold the parachutes. NASA has given us a launch date of Nov 30, 2011 for Falcon 9 Flight 3, which will send a Dragon spacecraft to the International Space Station (ISS) as part of NASA’s Commercial Orbital Transportation Services program.

Separation Tests of the Dragon Trunk from the Falcon 9 Second Stage

SpaceX

SpaceX conducted separation tests of the Dragon trunk from the Falcon 9 second stage. Release mechanisms hold the trunk (top, with solar panel covers on left and right sides) to the stage (bottom). When activated, springs on the Falcon 9 push against the Dragon trunk. The trunk separates and the test fixture’s counterbalance system raises the spacecraft up and away.

Dragon Solar Array Rotary Actuator

SpaceX

In the Hawthorne factory high bay, SpaceX tested the Dragon solar array rotary actuator by hanging the full array from the ceiling. The actuator (top center) turns the entire array. In flight, the solar panels will track the sun for maximum energy capture.

SpaceX Rocket Factory Collage

Roger Gilbertson/SpaceX

Upper left: First stage tank, with domes and barrels for the second stage. Upper right: All nine Merlin engines have been individually tested in Texas and then returned to California for integration into the thrust assembly. Lower left: Composite interstage structure that joins the stages. Lower right: The pressure vessel for the CRS-1 Dragon spacecraft has 10 cubic meters (350 cu ft) of interior volume.

Dragon Spacecraft After First Successful Orbital Flight.

SpaceX/Mike Altenhofen

Photo of actual Dragon spacecraft after its first successful orbital flight.

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