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An artist rendering of the upcoming Crew Space Transportation CST-100 spacecraft  (Source: Boeing)

Cutaway view of the CST-100 capsule  (Source: Boeing)

  (Source: Boeing)
Craft is expected to offer commercial service in the place of the retired Space Shuttle

Boeing recently received a lot of press for the X-37B, a spacecraft it designed for NASA that has been passed off to the U.S. Air Force and further refined into a fully operational vehicle.  It turns out that was certainly not the only spacecraft the company is cooking up.

Under a $18M USD contract with NASA Boeing is building a capsule craft called the Crew Space Transportation (CST)-100.  The craft can hold up to seven crew members.  It simplifies matters by reusing existing components and architecture from past capsule designs -- meaning that NASA will likely save on repair costs.

Size wise, the craft is bigger than an Apollo program capsule, but smaller than the planned Orion spacecraft which is NASA's official shuttle replacement.  It can launch aboard a variety of rockets, including the Atlas, Falcon, and Delta designs.

The plan will be to use the craft to ferry passengers and supplies to and from the International Space Station.  The craft will also likely service future upcoming commercial space stations, including those of Bigelow Aerospace Orbital Space Complex.  Bigelow is designing high-strength inflatable space stations which it plans to use in a commercial space hotel venture.

Competition in the field is tight, so Boeing has its work cut out for it.  In February, NASA gave $50M USD to Blue Origin, Boeing, Paragon Space Development Corporation, Sierra Nevada Corporation and United Launch Alliance to develop craft that could ferry passengers or freight to the ISS.  And while they have not officially tossed their hats in the ring, Virgin Galactic, makers of the space tourism craft SpaceShip One, and SpaceX, makers of the Falcon 9 launch vehicle both could design passenger craft to service the station at some point.

Ultimately, Boeing seems to be going for the right approach -- mixing affordability with an adequate design and flexibility.  How the design works out, though, remains to be seen.  Ultimately the results will prove a part of the critical test of whether President Obama's plans to denationalize the U.S space industry are feasible.

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RE: There was a time...
By MrBlastman on 7/22/2010 12:31:45 PM , Rating: 2
Our military helps keep us free. It helps zealots who want to destroy us to think otherwise.

Oh, and I'm forgetting the most important thing--it helps us pay for our weaponry that the whole world depends on when they call us to bail them out... over and over again.

So yes, our funding of the military is needed for the well-being of the whole planet. ;)

I am proud to be an American. I am not proud of our current president though.

RE: There was a time...
By Spuke on 7/22/10, Rating: -1
RE: There was a time...
By MrBlastman on 7/22/2010 2:49:17 PM , Rating: 5
Our military can more than keep us free by not being a permanent fixture in anywhere except Japan.

That I agree with.

IMO, the US military should only be deployed when someone's poop shoot needs to be stomped into the ground (I do support pre-emptive's just good strategy). And we don't need a permanent foreign presence to do that.

This too. We need our military, but it doesn't need to be everywhere, all the time. I'm pretty tired of having play police officer (which, my other post contained sarcasm about) everytime the rest of the world needs to be saved. It is like--they hate our military, yet, they cry for us the minute they are hurting and expect us to help them out.

Pretty sick, right? I'm all for having our troops at home except in instances where they need to be deployed, such as Afghanistan. It would be a crime though, to demilitarize America and let it go to waste within our borders.

RE: There was a time...
By Spuke on 7/22/2010 4:02:12 PM , Rating: 2
Pretty sick, right?
It is and it's time for that sh!t to end. Doesn't mean we can't have allies and it doesn't mean we can't help when asked but the status quo is BS.

RE: There was a time...
By YashBudini on 7/22/2010 6:34:31 PM , Rating: 1
"Our military helps keep us free. "

But I feel trapped by $400 toilet seats and $600 hammers. Unchecked spending is the jail that binds us all.

RE: There was a time...
By TechIsGr8 on 7/23/10, Rating: 0
RE: There was a time...
By TechIsGr8 on 7/23/10, Rating: -1
"We are going to continue to work with them to make sure they understand the reality of the Internet.  A lot of these people don't have Ph.Ds, and they don't have a degree in computer science." -- RIM co-CEO Michael Lazaridis

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