Don’t expect SpaceX to lavish much more attention on Crew Dragon now that it has launched people into orbit. CNBC said it had obtained email from Elon Musk asking staff to treat Starship as the “top SpaceX priority,” pushing them to “dramatically and immediately” speed up progress on the super-heavy rocket. About the only other focus is whatever can “reduce Dragon[’s] return risk,” Musk said.
Starship is meant to ultimately become SpaceX’s go-to rocket. It would not only have enough power for space tourism and long-distance trips, but represent a truly reusable rocket with fast turnaround times that make spaceflight more accessible. The rocket represents the future of the company — the string of explosions and other setbacks have effectively set back the company’s broader ambitions.
Provided the email is accurate, this doesn’t mean SpaceX will neglect existing projects. Crew Dragon may have ferried people to the International Space Station, but it has yet to enter regular service. You may, however, see them rapidly fade into the background as SpaceX pours its energy into its flagship project.
NASA-SpaceX astronauts’ historic splashdown
Marking the first US splashdown in 45 years, SpaceX’s Crew Dragon astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley successfully landed in the Atlantic Ocean at 2:48 PM ET. This was the first crewed orbital flight using a private spacecraft to land back on Earth, as well as the first crewed spaceflight from the US since NASA retired the Space Shuttle in 2011.
This is the last Crew Dragon test flight so, once SpaceX receives NASA certification, future flights will be regular missions carrying astronauts to the ISS. For NASA itself, it’s a major step forward for a Commercial Crew Program with lower costs.
For SpaceX, it’s keeping a step ahead of private spaceflight competitors, like Boeing, and I creep closer to setting up a savings account to one day book a flight into space.