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
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.
quote: Our military helps keep us free. It helps zealots who want to destroy us to think otherwise.
quote: Our military can more than keep us free by not being a permanent fixture in anywhere except Japan.
quote: 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 strikes..it's just good strategy). And we don't need a permanent foreign presence to do that.
quote: Pretty sick, right?