SpaceX says it will no longer make new vehicles from the Crew Dragon capsule, the spacecraft the company uses to transport humans to and from the International Space Station, According to a report in Reuters. The plan for now is to cap the Crew Dragon’s human-carrying fleet at four, which SpaceX will fly back over and over to take crews into space.
We are finishing the final [capsule]but we’re still making the components, because we’re going to renovate,” said Gwen Shotwell, President of SpaceX Reuters. After each flight of the Crew Dragon, the spacecraft must go through a refurbishment process in Florida, where some hardware is modified or swapped out to get the craft ready to fly again. SpaceX did not respond to a request for comment.
SpaceX initially developed the Crew Dragon for NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, an initiative to catalyze the creation of special vehicles to carry agency astronauts back and forth from the International Space Station. As part of this program, SpaceX has launched four crews of NASA astronauts to the International Space Station on the Crew Dragon. In September last year, the company launched its first all-private crew, carrying four civilian astronauts into Earth orbit on a three-day flight.
The company has plenty of future flights planned for four Crew Dragons, each of which have been named by the crew of the first astronauts: Endeavor, Resilience, Endurance, and Freedom.
In about a week, a commercial space station company called Axiom will launch a crew of Four private astronauts aboard the Crew Dragon to the space station for a 10-day journey. Axiom has a contract with SpaceX to launch at least three additional human missions to the International Space Station On Crew Dragon after this first. Meanwhile, SpaceX still holds a contract with NASA to launch crews to the International Space Station every six months and then bring them home. In February, NASA SpaceX has given three additional human missions with Crew Dragon To the International Space Station, on top of six SpaceX was originally contracted to do. The news brought SpaceX’s Commercial Crew contract with NASA to $3.49 billion.
While SpaceX has temporarily halted production of the Crew Dragon, a lot of resources are being poured into developing the company’s new Starship rocket, a massive new vehicle designed to carry people and cargo to deep space destinations like the Moon and Mars. However, Shotwell says Reuters That SpaceX could always reproduce the Crew Dragon if needed.
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