I read that the Boeing CST-100 could be reused up to 10 times, but the heat shield should be changed each time.

Here are my questions: How many times can the Dragon V2 be reused? Will it be reused in the NASA missions? Will the Dragon's heat shield be reusable without any maintanance?


2 Answers 2


Musk indicated that Dragon 2 could be reused "with minimal rework and fueling" about 10 times between overhauls. This is the target number but these are early days. The previous ablative shield was dumped in favor of a more advanced design. The goal then, for heat shield, engines and other major components would be at Least 10 flights, in theory.

Regards NASA, they will Not be reusing the capsule in the first few flights at least. (There will be 12 manned flights under the new contract). They will not likely reuse the capsule with people aboard until a large number of tests prove reusability is safe. Precisely what level of confidence Will be required has not yet been determined.

It is likely that they may "reuse" Dragon 2s to deliver cargo to ISS as ISS cargoes are relatively cheap and non mission critical (they keep 4-6 months of critical stores on the ISS at all times). This will allow Dragon 2 to build up historical data on reuse. Note that NASA has already paid Spacex for 12 cargo flights - most will be used up by the end of 2015. By 2017, when Dragon2 flies, they might see the used capsules as a cheap way of resupplying the ISS.


The CST-100 heat shield is replaced each flight because it is discarded as part of the landing process.

The capsule has airbags, between the heat shield and bottom of the capsule. As the parachutes slow it down for landing, it discards the heat shield, inflates the airbags, and lands on the ground.

Thus they can never reuse a heat shield, they throw it away on each flight.

Dragon V2 on the other hand will start by landing under parachutes in the water, then under parachutes on land with minor SuperDraco firings, and finally fully powered on land with the other two approaches as backup modes.

SpaceX has strongly suggested that the heat shield will be reusable but of course they have yet to demonstrate that by reflying a used Dragon V1 capsule. They have spent the engineering resources to prove it, and they have 7 recovered heat shields to examine, so they likely have very good data on the issue. Thus they should be able to have a confidence level that it will work but the proof is in the pudding. Lets see one fly 2 or 3 times and how they stand up at that point.


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