After almost a decade, the United States has launched astronauts into space again. This was the first time the American government turned to a private company, Space X, to put astronauts into orbit. Everything is new in this launch and there has been a great evolution since the first spaceships. Although there is usually talk of exterior design, there is another element that in most cases goes unnoticed because nobody sees it. The interface that allows you to command the spaceships. The evolution is really incredible, from the first ships to the present day as shown in the image below.
Space X: see the evolution of spaceship interfaces!
The control center of the new spaceship, the Crew Dragon is more like something out of the Star Trek universe than any other spaceship.
As with other technologies, we have moved from physical interfaces based on buttons, switches and displays, to others with alphanumeric LCDs. Then we also had small multifunction screens that were replaced by touch panels that allow you to dynamically change your appearance according to the needs of the crew.
Touch screens are the biggest trend today. In aeronautics, planes are gradually replacing physical interfaces with these screens. And while some pilots still resist for theoretical safety reasons, the truth is that Airbus, Boeing and, especially, private jet brands, are quickly moving towards the giant screens that show the instruments.
The space world, however, never made that leap.
We had the Mercury capsule with the instruments of any jet plane and then the Apollo capsule with few innovations. The 2002 version was the most advanced, with the introduction of multifunction screens.
Crew Dragon is something completely different. First, the interior space is much larger, with a maximum capacity for seven crew members – although NASA only uses a maximum of four seats.
But the most impressive is the interior space. Far from being a bunch of components, buttons, and screens. Everything is clean lines, as you can see in the video below.
The buttons and dials have not disappeared completely. There are still some at the bottom of the three panels that make up the spacecraft control.
But the rest has completely disappeared. There is not even an indicator of physical attitude, something that will make many pilots nervous.