It looks like SpaceX has, as the title states, built the final Dragon V1 capsule, in preparations to get to production of the Dragon V2 capsule going – this is the vehicle that will be crew-capable.
So, this means that SpaceX wil be re-flying their Dragon capsules for the foreseeable future, as their role as cargo craft to the ISS is still vital, as well as using the experience of constantly re-flying these vehicles to learn how to best refurbish and re-use them as efficiently as possible, thus (in theory) keeping costs down.
What I do have issue with is, once again, the Cult of SpaceX is celebrating this as some kind of new accomplishment, like it’s never been done before, and touting it as something superior to any other effort going on.
Right, let’s tear into this one:
First off, this isn’t a new idea, and this isn’t new in execution. As I mentioned before, the Space Shuttle was literally built around the very principle of being re-flown as a rule, not as an option as it was with the previous series of Dragon capsules. Hell, the Gemini 2 spacecraft was flown again in 1966 as part of the MOL program!
Secondly, they aren’t just being popped onto a Falcon 9 and re-launched. There is a considerable bit of refurbishment that needs to go on, and while this is still less than the shuttle had, the fact remains this isn’t as amazing a thing as The Cult of SpaceX wants to act like it is. It will still take time, and cost – we don’t know if the refurbishment will ever be as economical as proposed, and just the thought of that puts the cultists into a ferver – the classic “how dare you propose such a thing!” mentality that is an all too common reaction to any criticism of any kind!
Hell, just read the article: I’m absolutely amazed at how suddenly honest Musk is being about the costs of re-flying vs builting a new capsule – while he hopes they will become more economical to re-fly, even he says the savings are minimal! He’s already announced that Dragon V2 will not do ground landings, as originally planned, and also believes that Falcon Heavy might fail on it’s first launch. Clearly Elon Musk is being more realistic than even the fans are!
It’s madness. Utter madness to read the kinds of comments articles like the one in question get. I could probably make a whole article based solely on that, but as always, that’s another story.