Elon Musk ended up with it. His space corporation SpaceX no longer makes Crew Dragons from now on. The SpaceX spacecraft is used, among other things, to bring astronauts to the International Space Station, but now that there are four of the Dragon crew, that’s enough to take them to the International Space Station.
SpaceX is still working on Crew Dragon because the fourth isn’t quite finished yet, says SpaceX CEO, Gwen Shotwell Reuters† All 4 capsules will remain in use in the future. It can be reused, meaning it doesn’t stay in space, but continues to return to Earth for another launch.
The company also continues to develop parts, because of course existing Crew Dragons should still be repairable. After each flight, there are always parts that need to be replaced, just for safety reasons, so that the knowledge about these devices inside SpaceX certainly does not deteriorate. It’s also possible that new launches can happen quickly, which means that it should be possible to fix quickly.
NASA and SpaceX
Crew Dragon was created specifically to transport astronauts to the International Space Station. SpaceX is doing this under NASA’s Commercial Crew Program and represents one of the first aspects of cooperation between the US government’s space agency and a private company. Astronauts have already been brought to the International Space Station via Crew Dragon four times and the Crew Dragon has even flown over the Netherlands.
Next week there will be a fifth time, because after that four astronauts will go to the International Space Station to stay there for ten days. Netflix has followed the Crew Dragon’s previous flight and can be seen in the documentary Countdown Inspiration4. In September, several people were launched with Crew Dragon Resilience to stay in space for three days.
This was not a trip to the International Space Station, but “only” to Earth orbit, where astronauts spent three days as space tourists. So this wasn’t a quest trip, it was pure (and expensive) entertainment. It’s not just entertainment, SpaceX uses revenue from this type of space tourism to pay for future innovations and missions.
SpaceX isn’t quite saying goodbye to building the new Crew Dragons, because it never says never, but for now, the fourth spacecraft is the last. The focus is now on something completely different, the Starship rocket that will soon assist in missions to the Moon and possibly even Mars.
Want to read more about SpaceX? Then read 20 Years of SpaceX: Love It or Hate It.
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