Video of SpaceX Dragon capsule landing yesterday. Tweeted by SpaceX, this video shot from a recovery boat, underscores the accuracy of the Dragon’s re-entry and landing profile. With a splashdown nearly on top of the waiting recovery team, SpaceX demonstrated an accuracy that is sometime elusive in Russian Soyuz capsule’s 25 miles landing ellipse. As long time Russian space industry analyst James Oberg has pointed out , Soyuz crews have experienced some fairly dicey landings even in recent years.
Although the Dragon has only a very limited history to date, and has yet to be outfitted for crew, it seems that this is an area where the advantage of an all new, clean sheet design is likely to actually improve safety, depite the Soyuz capsule’s long history. Presumably, it will be very much the same with the Boeing CST-100 as well.
Of course, the real fun will start if and when SpaceX is able to conduct a powered Dragon landing following a descent from orbit. At that point, it will be interesting to see if the public perception of a regress in capabilties following the retirement of the Shuttle will begin to change for good, as the “state of the art” takes a demonstrable leap forward.