Exclusive-SpaceX ending production of flagship crew capsule -executive -Breaking
(Reuters] – SpaceX announced that it has ceased production of its new Crew Dragon spacecraft capsules. This is as Elon Musk’s Space Transport Company invests in the next generation spaceship program.
The crew cap at four Crew Dragons increases the urgency of developing the successor to the astronaut capsule, Starship. SpaceX has a moon and Mars rocket. Starship’s first launch was delayed by regulatory review and engine development issues for several months.
The company must also learn how to keep a fleet in good condition and resolve unexpected issues fast without disrupting its astronaut mission schedule.
SpaceX President Gwynne shotwell confirmed to Reuters that the company is closing down Crew Dragon production.
She stated that SpaceX would still be capable of building more capsules, but that she believes that fleet management is crucial.
Musk’s business model, which is based on the use of reusable spacecraft as its foundation, was certain to end production. The timing and strategy for using existing spacecraft to complete its backlog were not clear.
Crew Dragon has carried five private and government spacecraft crews since 2020. It was also the first flight of NASA astronauts. In fact, it became the main ride of the U.S. Space Agency to get humans to and from space.
SpaceX’s Florida facility, “Dragonland,” refurbishes the capsules after each flight.
Garrett Reisman (retired NASA astronaut, former SpaceX executive) said that there are lifetime issues. He now consults with SpaceX on matters related to human spaceflight.
Reisman said that SpaceX “is really good at identifying these problems quickly and then quickly fixing them,” referring to a 2021 investigation where SpaceX found and repaired a leaky toilet aboard a Crew Dragon capsule, which had previously flown human beings twice.
SpaceX received $3.5B from NASA in order to assist with the development and subsequent use of Crew Dragon, which will be used for six missions to the orbiting station. To make up for the delays in Boeing’s Starliner capsule, it added three additional missions.
SpaceX flew four astronaut crews to space station in its NASA contract, which cost $255 million each flight. Last year, SpaceX flew a private mission to Earth orbit with only four passengers. One of those was a billionaire entrepreneur.
Axiom, a Houston-based space station developer and spaceflight management manager, has plans for at least four more Crew Dragon missions. Axiom’s first Ax-1 mission will take four entrepreneurs to the station in April to carry out scientific research.
Musk is SpaceX founder and chief executive. He has been intensely focused on SpaceX’s development of the Starship in a hurry, which was the core of Musk’s plan to colonize Mars.
SpaceX’s flagship reusable rocket Crew Dragon, the Falcon 9 (and its stronger variant Falcon Heavy) are also repaired after every flight. Not all parts can be flown to space multiple times.
Reisman explained that “the goal is to become more and more like aviation operations,” where the vehicle can be taken after landing, filled up with oxygen and gas, then driven again.
If Starship achieves its design goals, it would be in a position to replace all that Falcon 9 Falcon Heavy, and Dragon can do.