The Crew Dragon space capsule preparing to take four civilian astronauts into space this year is undergoing an upgrade, with a glass dome being added at the top to give space tourists a 360-degree view of the universe.
Plans for the glass dome were announced as SpaceX and the team running the tour mission, Inspiration4, unveiled the full crew for the upcoming expedition.
The glass dome replaces the docking adapter within the Crew Dragon, because the capsule will not dock at the International Space Station.
The glass dome resembles the iconic dome on the International Space Station, but the Crew Dragon appears to be an unbroken slab of glass, with no supporting structures dividing the window view.
The aerodynamic protective envelope, which protects the hatch door area during launch, opens to reveal the glass dome once the vehicle is safely in orbit.
Based on Show SpaceX via Twitter, the dome accommodates at least one crew member, to reveal panoramic views of space.
The Crew Dragon is designed under a $ 2.6 billion contract from NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, an initiative to spur the development of the specially constructed space capsules that serve as NASA’s primary journeys into space.
Boeing is developing a competitor’s capsule, the Starliner, under the same program.
The Crew Dragon is in operation and the first two crew of government astronauts flew into space last year.
NASA, which approved the Crew Dragon for astronaut flights last year, said it does not plan to use the dome version of the Crew Dragon for NASA astronaut missions and that installing the window does not require NASA’s approval for safety.
A spokesman for the agency said: NASA currently has no plans to fly a modified version of the Crew Dragon, and as a fully commercial launch, NASA does not need to approve the design of SpaceX for the company’s special missions.
He added: NASA continues to maintain insight into SpaceX systems through our normal business, including sharing flight data from non-NASA missions.
The philanthropy-focused Mission Inspiration4, led by billionaire tech entrepreneur (Jared Isaacman), Jared Isaacman, CEO of Shift4 Payments, is slated to launch on September 15th.
As part of the mission, Iskman and three other non-professional astronauts are being sent on a free flight in Earth orbit for three days.