SpaceX and NASA recently unveiled the first four astronauts who will take place in the new Dragon capsule, also known as Dragon 2, to join the International Space Station. Victor Glover, Mike Hopkins, Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley will, if all goes well, take off to the ISS in April 2019. But Bob and Doug will be flying first in the capsule, during a test scheduled for November 2018.
During a press conference, SpaceX gave more details on the inside of the new Dragon capsule. The four astronauts face each other with three touchscreens and two rows of manual buttons, 38 in total. The screens naturally display the essential controls during the flight, as they represent the primary interface of the aircraft control.
The physical buttons are only there to help in case the touchscreens encounter a technical problem. Some of them are even protected by plastic panels, a sign that they are not supposed to be used under normal circumstances.
SpaceX Dragon capsule that would take astronauts to the ISS would start its mission in 2020
A prominent control is also present in the center of the console. The switch is marked “EJECT,” and it does what it says to do, precisely. It indeed makes it possible for the astronauts to detach the Dragon capsule of the rest of the rocket after takeoff, in case of emergency.
However, if nothing goes wrong, once the Dragon capsule has reached Earth’s orbit, the “EJECT” switch is deactivated automatically to prevent any unfortunate incident.
Astronauts also have access to a simulator on which they train hard. The inside of this capsule emulates the “real” ship, with all the flight software and support systems. As we have witnessed in Sci-Fi movies, pilots can face high-flying exercises, such as complete loss of cabin pressurization, fire, and so on.
Once the testing period is over, the first operational flights will start in early 2020.