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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 Spuke on 7/22/2010 2:13:11 PM , Rating: 5
Most other government overhead is peanuts in comparison to what upholding your own version of the roman empire is costing you.
Tell me how many other countries are in the "American Empire" where a correlation to the Roman Empire would be valid?

hrowing away hundreds of billions every year at the private corporations of the military-industrial complex is a complete waste.
I agree wholeheartedly, and quite frankly, I think you'll see a permanent change in the years to come. My prediction is a massive withdrawal after we bail out of Iraq (maybe after Afghanistan) from most, if not all, foreign countries. I think it's already happening. When Sec of Defense and various military leaders say we don't need certain things when historically they would've never said such things is a sign that there is a major change in thinking.

I personally believe that our only required presence is in Japan where we have pledged to provide for their defense. Thus allowing them not to have to spend a ton of money on their own military (yes they have one but it would need to be MUCH bigger if they were on their own). Everyone else doesn't need our presence.

The US has an active program of closing bases not just domestically, but in foreign countries too. It's a long time consuming process because Congress wants to gauge socioeconomic impacts and etc and I understand why this needs to be done locally but why does that matter overseas. Just close down and leave. I doubt we'll have that much impact on the economy in other countries.

I'm really not a fan of permanent foreign military bases and other Americans feel the same way. Hell, there are quite a few Americans that don't think we should be involved at all in foreign affairs. Some think we shouldn't even trade with other countries. I'm not that hardcore. A reduction in foreign involvement, especially when it clearly has nothing to do with us, would be nice.

PS - You can take the UN headquarters somewhere else too.

RE: There was a time...
By Obujuwami on 7/22/2010 3:44:09 PM , Rating: 2
PS - You can take the UN headquarters somewhere else too.

I too agree with this, send it to someplace neutral, like Switzerland, and free up the space for us. The country is neutral, has a low terrorism rate, and has great chocolate for the fat cat ambassadors who take a hefty check for doing not so much.

It would also cut down on all the political spying and other crap that we have to deal with.

"This is from the It's a science website." -- Rush Limbaugh

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