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SpaceX to stop producing Crew Dragon capsules

SpaceX is no longer producing the Crew Dragon capsules it uses to transport astronauts. However, that is because it has enough already.

The Elon Musk-controlled space company confirmed to Reuters that it has four existing Crew Dragons in its crew. SpaceX uses them to transport cargo and crew to the International Space Station, ISS; the only private company allowed to do both.

SpaceX thinks the four capsules are enough to handle the heavy astronaut traffic between the planet and the space station. However, it will continue to manufacture parts. According to the company president Gwynne Shotwell, the new parts are necessary because of mandatory refurbishment.

Meanwhile, SpaceX will retain the capacity to produce more capsules as the need may arise. But for now, it will concentrate on running its fleet efficiently.

Musk is a big proponent of reusability, a previously unpopular concept in the space industry. It is a critical component of the billionaire CEO’s plan to make space travel as affordable as possible. As such, SpaceX stopping the production of Crew Dragon capsules was a matter of when and not if.

SpaceX has racked up five crewed flights for both the government and privates astronauts using the Crew Dragon. It became NASA’s primary means of going to the ISS in 2020 after flying two astronauts, helping the government overcome its reliance on Russian launches. The capsule has demonstrated its capability to take and return astronauts from the ISS.

Altogether, SpaceX has earned about $3.5 billion from NASA. The amount has gone towards developing the Crew Dragon capsule and financing six trips to the ISS. SpaceX got three more missions after continuous delays with Boeing’s capsule named the Starliner.

SpaceX has four crewed NASA missions under its belt, each costing about $255 million. It has also carried out a private mission funded by a billionaire, and the flight carried four passengers on a three-day trip in earth orbit.

The capsules pass through a refurbishment process in Florida in a facility the company calls Dragonland. SpaceX is notably good at quickly identifying issues and fixing them, an essential skill in a high-stake industry like space travel. “There’s lifetime cycle issues, where once you start using it the third, fourth, fifth time, you start finding different things. SpaceX is really good about identifying these issues quickly and then acting quickly to fix them, said retired NASA astronaut and former SpaceX executive Garrett Reisman. He points to how SpaceX realized and solved the leaking toilet issue on the Crew Dragon within months.

SpaceX uses its Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy rockets to launch payloads to orbit for itself and its competitors in the satellite internet business. Both rockets are partially reusable.

SpaceX is now focused on completing its latest rocket, the Starship. It will be the most powerful spacecraft ever while being completely reusable. Musk hopes to slash flight costs significantly with the rocket, which he also plans to use to colonize Mars. Describing the Starship, Reisman said, “The goal is to get more and more like aircraft operations, where you can take the vehicle after it lands, fill it back up with gas and oxygen, and go again very rapidly. Starship, if it achieves its design objectives, would be able to affordably replace everything that Falcon 9, Falcon Heavy, and Dragon can do.”

Written by HackerVibes

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