SpaceX has discontinued the production of new Crew Dragon spacecraft. This was reported by Reuters with reference to the head of the technology company. The decision is related to switching to the next generation spacecraft program.
By limiting the production of four copies of the Crew Dragon, the company will be able to accelerate the development of the next model, which is planned to be used for flights to the Moon and Mars.
In addition, SpaceX now faces the challenges of quickly servicing the capsules and getting them ready for their next use, including fixing unforeseen issues, without disrupting their busy launch schedule.
“We are finishing our last (capsule), but we are still producing components because they are needed for recovery,” SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell quoted Reuters as saying.
Shotwell added that SpaceX will retain the ability to build more capsules if the need arises in the future.
Since 2020, there have been five crewed Crew Dragon flights. After each flight, the capsules undergo refurbishment at SpaceX’s facilities in Florida, which the company calls Dragonland.
NASA has allocated about $3.5 billion to SpaceX for the development and subsequent use of the Crew Dragon, counting on six flights to the space station. Three more were later added to make up for delays in the commissioning of Boeing’s Starliner spacecraft.
SpaceX has already delivered four crews of astronauts to the space station under a contract with NASA, receiving approximately $255 million for each flight. Last year, the company also completed a completely private three-day low-Earth orbit flight with four passengers on board, including the billionaire entrepreneur who funded the trip.