It seems that SpaceX wants to stop indefinitely the production of one of the most important (commercially) spacecraft ever produced, let’s talk about the Crew Dragon, the one that allowed the United States to regain the freedom to bring its astronauts to the International Space Station without depend more on Russia.
There is no official communication on the matter but to say it is a note from the Reuters news agency after an exchange with the president of SpaceX, Gwynne Shotwell, according to which no other units will be built but only modifications implemented and improvements to existing ones.
“We are refining our capsule and still producing components, as we will refurbish existing ones” he would have told Reuters, and the decision is not very surprising if we think of SpaceX’s modus operandi, mainly devoted to the reusability of its means. For current needs, the four Crew Dragons built are more than enough and it is known that after each mission the spacecraft returns to the company’s hangars to go through a process of checking and replacing worn parts.
There will also be changes and improvements, which we have already witnessed on several occasions in recent years. Let’s think, for example, of the version for tourist use and equipped with a panoramic dome (strong point of the Inspiration4 mission).
FOUR CREW DRAGONS CAN ENOUGH
The four spacecraft available, that is Endeavor, Resilience, Endurance and Freedom they will continue to be used in both commercial and tourism sectors and SpaceX has already secured a number of important contracts. If we talk about the International Space Station, the contract with NASA provides for a launch every 6 months and as many for the return home of the astronauts. In addition to this, the space agency has requested another 3 additional missions from SpaceX, for a contract worth 3.49 billion dollars. And if we talk about space tourism, Axiom Space also has a contract for 3 tourist missions to the ISS, the first of which will take four astronauts into orbit for 10 days.
It therefore appears that at the present time the existing Crew Dragons are more than sufficient to fulfill the purposes for which they were built and that the company wants to pour most of its efforts to complete its flagship project, the Starship. For this beast from 70 meters high (120 meters together with the first stage) the company has big plans and it is already known that the modified HLS version will be the one that will lander in the next moon landing of 2025 (perhaps 2026) with the Artemis program. . But Starship has not yet completed a first orbital test and perhaps the time may finally be ripe. We are talking about May of this year, after a delay of almost a year if we think that Musk last year is talking about July 2021.