SpaceX discontinues manned Dragon spacecraft

(ORDO NEWS) — The decision was expected by those who have been following the company for a long time. But even many space fans who didn’t delve too deeply into SpaceX’s development strategy were taken by surprise by the news.

The production of Dragon ships has ended, and now all flights will be carried out on the already created fleet of four reusable passenger capsules.

SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell told Reuters last night, March 28, about the end of the release of Dragon . According to her, the production of a number of components and parts will continue for the needs of post-flight maintenance. But the main forces of the team that worked on Crew Dragon will now focus on the next generation ship – Starship .

Gwynn did not say anything about the fate of the “related” capsule – the cargo Dragon . To date, only two have been built, both of which are consistently used to resupply the International Space Station.

The SpaceX space fleet now has six second-generation Dragon capsules : a pair of Cargos and four Crews . This is more than enough to fulfill all current and planned contracts.

Preparing Dragon for a re-flight takes about three to four months, there is practically no difference between the manned and cargo versions in this process. Moreover, the technical capabilities of the ships are not fully used instead of the design seven seats, they are certified for four astronauts (more is not required yet).

Interestingly, the following conclusion can be drawn from this news: the C212 Freedom capsule is ready and is being tested. Officially, the company has not yet announced the completion of its assembly.

The first mission for this ship is scheduled for April ( Crew-4 ). During it, four astronauts will be delivered to the ISS to carry out the 67th and 68th expeditions at the orbital laboratory.

There is one more point of importance to fans, analysts and aerospace industry workers contained in this short message from Shotwell.

It turns out that work on a manned version of the Starship spacecraft is moving from a preliminary theoretical into a practical plane. It is too early to draw conclusions about the timing of the development of the entire fully reusable next-generation rocket and space system. Now its first orbital launch is again in question.

Recall that the test launch of the Starship prototype was initially expected in late summer or autumn 2021, but the approval of the regulators made it wait.

First, the examination of the US Federal Aviation Administration ( FAA ) dragged on for more than a month compared to the stated deadlines, then summarizing its results was completely postponed to the spring of 2022. In the meantime, SpaceX wasted no time and, until permission to fly was obtained, continued to work on the program.

It is now known that a new prototype will fly into orbit, and it will even have to launch a test payload ( Starlink satellite package ).

What’s more, this preview Starship will be powered by the next generation of Raptor engines . The production of the first version ended after about 200 units were produced, almost all of which were used in ground bench or atmospheric flight tests.

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