SpaceX founder Ilon Mask published on his Twitter page a photo of the final design of the manned spacecraft Crew Dragon (Dragon 2), which will be used to deliver astronauts to the International Space Station.
The Dragon 2 ship is a deeply modernized version of the Dragon truck, successfully flying to the ISS. The device has a nearly monoblock design. In the cargo-and-passenger mode, it allows, together with the payload of up to 2.5 tons, to send up to four people to the ISS. In passenger mode, the ship takes on board up to seven people (the Russian “Soyuz” – up to three).
According to various sources, the agreement between NASA and Roskosmos on delivering people to the ISS at the Soyuz runs in the fall of 2019. As an alternative to Russian spacecraft, SpaceX and Boeing are developing the manned spacecraft Dragon 2 and Starliner. Unmanned tests of vehicles are planned for August this year. The first manned flight of Starliner is to take place in November 2018, Dragon 2 – in December.
However, according to the report of the US Chamber of Accounts, submitted in January 2018, it is highly likely that Dragon 2 will be able to pass certification for manned launches not earlier than December 2019, and Starliner – not earlier than March 2020. NASA is considering the possibility of making the pilot manned missions Dragon 2 and Starliner operational, which involves an increase in the number of crew and the duration of his stay on the ISS.
At the moment, only Russia and China have the ability to deliver people to near-earth orbit. However, China is denied access to the ISS because of restrictions on the part of the United States.