NASA has announced that it will allow SpaceX to reuse the Crew Dragon spacecraft, which recently took astronauts at the International Space Station (ISS) and on the first floors of the Falcon 9 next year.
The announcement, although not completely unexpected, is a milestone in NASA Commercial Crew Program (CCP) which brings space exploration back to American soil in a way that has not been seen since the withdrawal of the space shuttle program in 2011.
A “bilateral modification”
A modification to NASA’s commercial crew transport capacity (CCtCap) contract with SpaceX, which was released last month, allows SpaceX to reuse both the first floor of the Falcon 9 and the spacecraft Crew Dragon from the spacecraft’s second operational mission, known as the Post-Mission Certification (PCM) 2 or Crew-2.
The change was described as part of a “bilateral change” which also officially extended the duration of the Demo-2 mission from two weeks to 119 days, SpaceNews Explain.
Although SpaceX previously announced that their Crew Dragon capsule can be reused, the contract modification is a change from the original agreement, as the company originally planned to use a new Crew Dragon for each of its commercial crew missions. for NASA.
Economical and safe
“In that case, SpaceX has offered to reuse future Falcon 9 and / or Crew Dragon systems or components for NASA missions to the International Space Station, as they believe this will be beneficial from a safety and / or cost perspective, “a said NASA spokesperson Stephanie Schierholz. Space News.
“NASA has performed a thorough review and has determined that the terms of the overall contract amendment are in the best interest of the government,” she said.
According to Schierholz, the Crew Dragon will be reused for the first time in 2021, as part of the first operational missions, Post-Certification Mission 2 (PCM-2 or Crew-2), following the history of Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken. test mission at the ISS last month.