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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 sinful on 7/23/2010 12:46:05 AM , Rating: -1
A "hard" look actually indicates otherwise. A lot of it is not grouped in the military portion when it really should be part of that pie.

Military: $738B
Veterans Benefits: $122B (NOT part of the "military" budget)
Military Retirement: $51B (NOT part of the "military" budget)
International Affairs ("Foreign Military Finance Grants"): $5.5B (NOT part of the "military" budget)
International Affairs ("Foreign Military Sales Trust Fund"): $7.6B (NOT part of the "military" budget)
DoD Health Care fund $9.3B (NOT part of the "military" budget)...
etc, etc

So easily 1/3rd of our entire budget is military spending.

And it should be pointed out that Social Security is (currently) running a budget SURPLUS, meaning, it's actually REDUCING the deficit at the moment.

Of course, that leaves the question as to where to attribute all the INTEREST on the deficit... hrm, attribute it to the FUNDED & PAID FOR parts of the budget.... or the unfunded part (military)?

Okay, so the rest is all helping out the poor, right?
Highways? Hrm, maybe not. Narcotics enforcement... hrm, dunno about that. Border security? Doubtful.
etc, etc.

I should also point out you're basically going "Gee, the worst economic depression in decades, and look at how much money is being spent trying to get people back on their feet!"

The truth of the matter is that most of our budget woes come from the right just rubber stamping the military's budget without ANYONE actually looking at it (because coincidentally it helps all the Republican states, and they can't say NO to loading THEIR plates up with PORK).

In years when they're slashing education budgets, the military gets budget increases.

And do we REALLY need 5 times as many Aircraft carriers as the UK? Is it REALLY necessary to be building more Aircraft carriers than any other country currently has?

Sorry, the military is the epitome of socialism, government waste, and lack of budget oversight.
And it's all UNFUNDED.

The FIX for our budget woes is to have a "MILITARY TAX" taken out of your paycheck like they do for Social Security.

Of course, that would cause your taxes to quadruple, so the right is quite happy to leave that the way it is and to keep helping themselves to their Pork...oh but hey, the poor are getting free food! BLAME THEM!

RE: There was a time...
By ajfink on 7/23/2010 3:17:25 AM , Rating: 3
There's only a budget surplus on paper, now. There's no such thing as a social security surplus in the long run, according to projections.

RE: There was a time...
By CSMR on 7/23/2010 6:59:24 AM , Rating: 3
What helps the economy get back on its feet is low taxes. I.e. reduced spending on benefits, military, etc..
You can see from the NYT chart that Keeir's statement is correct.

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