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1.7k shares, 332 points

Why NASA & SpaceX abandon New Spacecraft “DRAGON XL” For The Artemis Lunar Mission?

How big of a truck will you need to transport everything you have to your new home?
I’m sure most of us will even need multiple rides with giant trucks.
Now, let’s imagine the case of NASA, they even want to send humans to the Moon and settle there. Clearly, they won’t be able to buy anything else if we don’t bring it up from the earth.
That is why NASA awarded SpaceX a contract to develop a new variant of the Dragon – named: The Dragon XL. It should be able to transport 5 tons of cargo to the Lunar Gateway as part of the Artemis program.
So, how is it designed and working?
Why do we rarely hear SpaceX talk about this name?
Let’s find out everything about this interesting subject in today’s episode of SpaceX fans.

In March 2020, NASA announced that it had selected SpaceX to deliver the bulk of pressurized and unpressurized cargo, experiments, and other supplies to the Gateway, which will be assembled in an elliptical, or egg-shaped, orbit around the moon. That would be needed to crew live and operate a proposed “Gateway” lunar space station for the first several years of its existence.
The deal gives SpaceX its first major role in NASA’s Artemis program, which aims to land astronauts on the moon.

To accomplish that task, SpaceX would develop a heavily-modified single-use version of its Dragon 2 spacecraft with more propellant storage, more space for cargo, and a range of other design changes.

Named the Dragon XL, this large cargo vehicle – which looks more like a large Cygnus XL vehicle than a traditional Dragon design.

Dragon XL would weigh around 15 to 16 tons at liftoff and likely require a fully or partially expendable Falcon Heavy launch for each mission to the Moon.

The equipment delivered by SpaceX’s Dragon XL missions could include sample collection materials, spacesuits, and other items astronauts may need on the Gateway and on the moon’s surface, according to NASA.

The Dragon XL will dock autonomously with the Gateway station, using docking and navigation equipment that flies on the Dragon 2 crew and cargo vehicles.

The resupply spacecraft will stay at the Gateway for six to 12 months at a time when research payloads inside and outside the cargo vessel could be operated remotely, even when crews are not present.

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