SpaceX says it will no longer build new vehicles from its Crew Dragon capsule, the spacecraft the company uses to transport people to and from the International Space Station. according to a report in Reuters† The plan for now is to cap the Crew Dragon people-carrying fleet at four, which SpaceX will fly again and again to get crews into space.
“We are working on our final [capsule]but we’re still producing components, because we’re going to refurbish,” SpaceX president Gwynne Shotwell said Reuters† After each flight of a Crew Dragon, the spacecraft has to undergo a facelift in Florida, with certain hardware being modified or swapped to make the vehicle 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 encourage the creation of private vehicles to transport astronauts from the ISS to and from the ISS. As part of that program, SpaceX launched four crews of NASA astronauts to the ISS on the Crew Dragon. Last September, the company launched its first all-private crew, which transported four civilian astronauts to Earth orbit for a three-day journey.
The company has numerous future voyages planned for the four Crew Dragons, each named by their first astronaut crews: Endeavour, Resilience, Endurance and Freedom.
In about a week, a commercial space station company called Axiom will launch a crew of four private astronauts on a Crew Dragon to the space station for a 10-day journey. Axiom has a contract with SpaceX launches at least three additional human missions to the ISS on Crew Dragon after this first. Meanwhile, SpaceX still has a contract with NASA to launch crews to the ISS every six months and then return them home. In February, NASA awarded SpaceX three additional human missions with Crew Dragon to the ISS, in addition to the six for which SpaceX was originally contracted. The news brought SpaceX’s Commercial Crew contract award with NASA to $3.49 billion.
While SpaceX has paused production of the Crew Dragon, significant resources are being invested in developing the company’s new Starship rocket, a massive new vehicle designed to transport people and cargo to distant space destinations such as the Moon and Mars. . However, Shotwell relates: Reuters that SpaceX can always restart Crew Dragon production if necessary.
SOURCE – www.theverge.com