SpaceX has unveiled the latest render of its Crew Dragon spacecraft, this time with a nearly 180-degree glass dome, allowing future passengers to get an unprecedented view of their surroundings. “Most of the ‘space’ you can probably feel by being in a glass dome,” CEO Elon Musk replied on Twitter.
It is not yet clear what kind of crew dragon capsules may feature in such a dome, but given the focus on enjoying the view, the new feature is likely to target private passenger planes in space. The news comes after billionaire Jacob Isaacman chose three people to ride with him on the “Multi-Day Crew Dragon” highway as well as “from mid-September.”
The glass dome is reminiscent of the “Cupola” installed by the European Space Agency on the International Space Station in 2010. The circular window in the middle of the Cupola spans about two and a half feet. If SpaceX uses the structure of its dock adapter, the dome may be about four and a half feet in diameter, and about two feet deep, according to the calculation of the Teslarati‘s. As seen in the render, the glass dome may blocked by the nostrils of the capsule when not in use.
It is not yet clear whether the current technological limitations may actually be present today for such a huge glass dome.
Glass has to withstand extreme conditions in space, ranging from very different temperatures to extreme pressure differences. Coppola, for example, uses specialized bulletproof glass. Creating a huge dome that can withstand these conditions will probably present SpaceX with a huge engineering challenge.
However, spectacular views may be appropriate. SpaceX and Inspire 4 customer Jared Isaacman has unveiled a substantial and unexpected design change for the Crew Dragon spacecraft that will take billionaires and three guests into orbit later this year.
At an event celebrating the March 30th Crew Final Crew Selection, SpaceX Director Benji Reid said NASA is closely involved in the development of the Dragon’s Dome window.
Most notably, he strongly indicated that flight-certified crew dragons would be able to switch between domes and docking hardware with sufficient ease that a dragon aircraft with a dome from the SpaceX travel mission could still modified to support NASA’s astronaut launch. The ‘fleet’ in Dragon is creating SpaceX, ensuring generality. SpaceX has announced that its Dragon Dome will make its debut on Billionaire Jared Isaacman’s Inspiration 4 mission in early September 2021 – currently the world’s first fully private astronaut.