Meet Dragon V2 – SpaceX CEO Elon pulls the curtain off manned Dragon V2 on May 29, 2014 for worldwide unveiling of SpaceX’s new astronaut transporter for NASA. Credit: SpaceX
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SpaceX CEO and billionaire founder Elon Musk gushed with excitement as he counted down the seconds and literally pulled the curtain away to unveil his company’s new manned Dragon V2 astronaut transporter for all the world to see during a live streaming webcast shortly after 10 p.m. EST (7 p.m. PST, 0200 GMT) this evening, Thursday, May 29, from SpaceX HQ.

The first photos from the event are collected herein. And I’ll be adding more and updating this story as they flow in.

Musk’s Dragon V2 unveiling was brimming with excitement like a blockbuster Hollywood Science Fiction movie premiere – with lights, cameras and action.

But this was the real deal and hopefully gets America moving again back to thrilling, real space adventures in orbit and beyond – reaching for the stars.

“The Dragon V2 is a 21st century spacecraft,” Musk announced to a wildly cheering crowd. “As it should be.”

“We wanted to take a big step in spacecraft technology. It is a big leap forward in technology and takes things to the next level.”

“An important characteristic of that is its ability to land anywhere on land, propulsively. It can land anywhere on Earth with the accuracy of a helicopter.”

“I think that’s what a spaceship should be able to do.”

“It will be capable of carrying seven astronauts. And it will be fully reusable.”

Dragon V2, SpaceX’s next generation spacecraft designed to carry astronauts to space is unveiled by CEO Elon Musk on May 29, 2014. Credit: SpaceX

The sleek gleaming spaceship looks decidedly different from the current cargo Dragon V1.

Read my “Dragon V2” preview articles leading up to the May 29 event – here and here.

Elon Musk seated inside Dragon V2 explaining consoles at unveiling on May 29, 2014. Credit: SpaceX

This new manrated Dragon is aimed at restoring US human launch access to space from American soil by carrying crews of up to seven US astronauts to low Earth orbit and eventually perhaps Mars – starting as soon as 2017.

Musk unveiled the gumdrop-shaped Dragon V2, or Version 2, to an overflow crowd of employees and media at SpaceX headquarters and design and manufacturing facility in Hawthorne, CA.

SpaceX Dragon V2 next generation astronaut spacecraft unveiled May 29, 2014. Credit: NASA

But Musk and SpaceX are not alone in striving to get Americans back to space.

Two other US aerospace firms – Boeing and Sierra Nevada – are competing with SpaceX to build the next generation spaceship to ferry astronauts to and from the ISS by 2017 using seed money from NASA’s Commercial Crew Program in a public/private partnership.

Altogether they have received more than $1 Billion in NASA funding.

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk unveils SpaceX Dragon V2 next generation astronaut spacecraft on May 29, 2014. Credit: Robert Fisher/America Space

The Boeing CST-100 and Sierra Nevada Dream Chaser ‘space taxis’ are also vying for funding in the next round of contracts to be awarded by NASA around late summer 2014.

The ‘Dragon V2’ is an upgraded, man-rated version of the unmanned Dragon cargo spaceship that just completed its third operational resupply mission to the ISS with a successful splashdown in the Pacific Ocean on May 18.

Stay tuned here for Ken’s continuing SpaceX, Boeing, Sierra Nevada, Orbital Sciences, commercial space, Orion, Mars rover, MAVEN, MOM and more planetary and human spaceflight news.

Ken Kremer

SpaceX Dragon V2 next generation astronaut spacecraft unveiled May 29, 2014. Credit: NASA
Ken Kremer

Dr. Ken Kremer is a speaker, research scientist, freelance science journalist (KSC area,FL) and photographer whose articles, space exploration images and Mars mosaics have appeared in magazines, books, websites and calendars including Astronomy Picture of the Day, NBC, FOX, BBC, SPACE.com, Spaceflight Now, Science and the covers of Aviation Week & Space Technology, Spaceflight and the Explorers Club magazines. Ken has presented at numerous educational institutions, civic & religious organizations, museums and astronomy clubs. Ken has reported first hand from the Kennedy Space Center, Cape Canaveral, NASA Wallops, NASA Michoud/Stennis/Langley and on over 80 launches including 8 shuttle launches. He lectures on both Human and Robotic spaceflight - www.kenkremer.com. Follow Ken on Facebook and Twitter

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