Reuters reported on Monday that SpaceX will no longer build new Crew Dragons, the spacecraft that ferry astronauts to and from the International Space Station, and will instead focus on reusing its already existing fleet of four.
SpaceX plans to continue manufacturing Crew Dragon components for refurbishment and will be able to produce more astronaut capsules as needed, SpaceX President Gwynn Shotwell told Reuters.
The Crew Dragon is SpaceX’s first manned spacecraft based on the design of the Dragon cargo capsule used to service the ISS. Since its launch in 2020, the Crew Dragon capsule has carried humans into space on five different missions, including Inspire 4, a private crewed mission funded by billionaire Jared Isaacman.
The Crew Dragon is also the only reusable vehicle used by NASA to transport astronauts to and from the ISS. In 2014, SpaceX awarded the agency a six-mission Commercial Crew Transportation (CCTcap) contract, and in February, NASA ordered three additional Crew Dragon missions from the company. In total, SpaceX will bring in about $3.5 billion across nine different missions.
SpaceX currently has a monopoly on manned spaceflight to the ISS. While Boeing has received the CCTcap contract from NASA, the proposed Starliner manned spacecraft has experienced technical delays that have even put a test flight on hold.
As the company completes production of the Crew Dragon, it is hard at work building the super-heavy next-generation Starship launch system. SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said on Twitter that the company plans to conduct the first orbital test of the new spacecraft in May, but the company is still awaiting major regulatory approval from the Federal Aviation Administration before that can happen.