The SuperDraco is an advanced version of the Draco engines used by SpaceX’s Cargo Dragon spacecraft to maneuver in orbit and during re-entry. SuperDracos will be used on Crew Dragon spacecraft as part of the vehicle’s launch escape system; they will also enable propulsive landing on land. Photo Credit: SpaceX
With the in-flight Crew Dragon abort test set to launch in less than an hour, let’s take a look into the incredibly powerful and spacecraft specific SuperDraco engine. The Draco thruster rocket engine is used to maneuver the Dragon capsule while in space and upon re-entry to earths’ atmosphere. The SuperDraco is a much larger engine, delivering over 100 times the thrust of the Draco and is used to swiftly move the Crew Dragon away from the Falcon 9 stages in case of an anomaly with the rocket.
Draco thrusters are a part of a reaction control system, or RCS, a type of system found on spacecraft which use thrusters for attitude control and translation (translation is a one-to-one correspondence between two sets of point or a mapping from one plane to another). This system often utilizes both combinations of thrusters to achieve different levels or response on the spaceship.