Before the launch of the Crew Dragon spacecraft (Crew-3), both NASA officials and SpaceX reps held a briefing on October 8th, 2021, to reveal the details of the mission. At the briefing meeting, the spacecraft mission management of SpaceX Dragon, Sarah Walker, revealed that they are using the new Crew Dragon spacecraft (C210) to perform the Crew-3 mission. The rocket booster to be used here is the B1067 which had already made its debut on June 3, 2021, when it was carrying SpaceX’s second Cargo Dragon spacecraft to the International Space Station.
The upcoming mission will mark the second time that NASA will be reusing recovered commercial rockets to launch astronauts into space, thanks to SpaceX. Previously, SpaceX had used the recovered Falcon 9 rocket booster to launch the NASA astronauts for the first time as part of the Crew-2 commercial mission. Notably, SpaceX had reused two recovered Falcon 9 rockets for a manned mission to the ISS, which has only furthered the case for reusing the recovered rockets from SpaceX. Moreover, this has also given NASA valid proof for reusing the rocket to go ahead with the upcoming Crew-3 mission to the ISS.
Sarah Walker has further announced that the Crew-4 mission, which is scheduled to take place in April 2022, will also be using the Crew Dragon spacecraft. Currently, SpaceX is using C206 and C207 for its manned missions.
The upcoming four spacecraft that will make the journey to the ISS have to be certified by NASA for at least five missions. But suppose SpaceX fails to get the certification from NASA for its long-term use. In that case, this might mean that SpaceX will need more spacecraft, and as Walker had pointed out, SpaceX’s number of reusable Dragon spacecraft is likely to double in number in the next eight months.
She has also revealed that SpaceX will also make its debut on the Dragon spacecraft in its CRS-24 and CRS-25 missions which will also increase the present number of spacecraft to four. Although interstellar spacecraft might succeed the currently used Dragon spacecraft in the future, SpaceX has assured that it will have to rely on the Dragon spacecraft for at least the next 5 to 10 years.