Inside Elon Musk’s space rescue pod, which could help Nasa in critical emergencies

A mini rocket built by Elon Musk could be used to rescue astronauts in emergencies, Nasa has announced.

Built by Musk’s rocket company SpaceX, the escape pod was the first private spacecraft to carry astronauts into orbit.

SpaceX's Crew Dragon capsule


SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsulePhoto credit: SpaceX

The Crew Dragon vehicle has an upper deck with four seats and a lower deck with three cargo pallets.

It is currently docked with the International Space Station (ISS), but could be used to transport astronauts back to Earth in an emergency.

A coolant leak on a Russian Soyuz spacecraft docked with the ISS in December has left several astronauts stranded in orbit.

The leak was “quite extensive,” according to a Nasa spokesman at the time.

Without its coolant, the Soyuz could overheat on its way back through Earth’s atmosphere.

Nasa and Russia’s space agency Roscosmos worked together to develop a plan to get the crew members home safely.

The plan they agreed on was the deployment of a spare Soyuz aircraft, scheduled to be launched in February.

Despite the saga, the astronauts are safe,

But the leaking Russian rocket raised concerns about how ISS crew members could be evacuated in an emergency.

When astronauts needed to evacuate the ISS, they typically did so in the vehicle they arrived in.

But the coolant problem means six astronauts are stuck on the station, at least for now, including four Nasa and two Roscosmos crew members.

The current rescue plan calls for Nasa astronaut Frank Rubio to travel in the SpaceX Crew Dragon along with Nasa’s four Crew 5 members.

Though the Dragon capsule only has four seats, Sarah Walker, director of Dragon mission management at SpaceX, stressed that it’s still safe to carry an extra person.

“In the early days of designing the Crew Dragon interior, we actually designed the interior to seat up to seven people, and this was later adapted to convert three of those seats into spaces that could be used as cargo storage “, she said .

“Dragon has a lot of wiggle room, even with the extra crew member, in terms of onboard life support.”

Russian cosmonauts Sergey Prokopyev and Dmitri Petelin will then travel in the Soyuz that experienced the leak.

“What we wanted to do was reduce the heat load on the Soyuz. So if you remove Rubio from the Soyuz, you take away a third of the human heat load,” Joel Montalbano, manager of the International Space Station program at NASA, told reporters.

The four seats were designed to carry astronauts to and from space


The four seats were designed to carry astronauts to and from spacePhoto credit: nasa
Part of the Dragon Capsule control panel


Part of the Dragon Capsule control panelPhoto credit: spacex
Another element of the capsule control panel


Another element of the capsule control panelPhoto credit: spacex

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