Yesterday, SpaceX invited press to view its Dragon V2 manned spacecraft on Thursday, May 29. Elon Musk, the commercial spaceflight company’s founder and CEO, wrote one month ago on Twitter that his company would show off “actual flight design hardware” of the Dragon V2, “not a mockup,” in May. Ars will be in Los Angeles for the event, bringing you photos and news from the scene, but viewers can also watch from home—SpaceX will be offering a live webcast here at 7pm PDT.
The Dragon V2 will be an updated version of SpaceX’s current Dragon capsules, which are unmanned and have made several trips to and from the International Space Station (ISS) in the last two years. Work on the V2 has been partially funded and developed with help from NASA, which hopes to have a manned “space taxi” to shuttle crew and cargo into orbit by 2017.
That timing is important, as NASA shuttered its space shuttle program in 2011. Today, NASA depends on Russian Soyuz rockets to get astronauts to the ISS and pays Russia $71 million per seat in the shuttle. As tensions have grown between the US and Russia over foreign relations in Ukraine, it has become increasingly uncertain how much longer the US will be able to rely on Russia’s shuttle service.