SpaceX will no longer be making new Crew Dragons, the spacecraft that ferries astronauts to and from the International Space Station, and will instead focus on reusing the fleet of four already in existence, Reuters reported Monday.
SpaceX is planning to continue manufacturing Crew Dragon components for refurbishment and will be able to manufacture more of the astronaut capsules if needed, SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell told Reuters.
Crew Dragon is SpaceX’s first crewed spacecraft, borrowing its design from the Dragon cargo capsule that’s used for resupply services to the ISS. Crew Dragon capsules have taken humans to space in five separate missions since its debut in 2020, including Inspiration4, a private crewed mission financed by billionaire Jared Isaacman.
Crew Dragon is also the only reusable vehicle used by NASA to shuttle astronauts to and from ISS. SpaceX landed the Commercial Crew Transportation Capability (CCtCap) contract for six missions with the agency in 2014, and NASA ordered three additional Crew Dragon missions from the company in February. In total, SpaceX will net around $3.5 billion for the nine separate missions.
Currently, SpaceX has a monopoly on human spaceflight to the ISS. While Boeing was also awarded a CCtCap contract from NASA, its proposed crewed spacecraft, Starliner, has been beset by technical delays that have halted even a test flight.
While the company concludes production of Crew Dragon, it remains hard at work on development of the ultra-super-heavy next-generation launch system Starship. SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said on Twitter that the company is targeting May for the first orbital flight test of the new spaceship, but the company is still awaiting key regulatory approvals from the Federal Aviation Administration before that can take place.