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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 TechIsGr8 on 7/23/2010 1:41:47 PM , Rating: -1
I agree the healthcare system needs to be reformed, this is for sure. It doesn't though, need to go to a single pay system where we are dependent on our Government.

Would you have a problem with the government, which is "we the people", creating competition for private industry through a Medicare buy-in option for all Americans? Seems that would be the very best of competition in the "free market". If you don't want "government telling you what to do", then fine, you can continue to buy insurance from a huge corporation, which takes your premium to buy advertising, real estate, and fund multi-million dollar executive compensation plans. It's your CHOICE. That's a free market, something you should love. Would you prefer the big bad government putting restrictions on the poor corporations? After all, these corporations are just trying to eke out an honest living, so why should they be burdened by government regulations? Capitalism mandates that the free market needs competition. Medicare buy-in option. Done, everyone happy. Anti-government folks still have their free market choices, pro-government folks have an affordable health care choice.

RE: There was a time...
By MrBungle123 on 7/23/2010 11:21:30 PM , Rating: 2
The problem with a "Medicare buy in option" is that it would be run by the government. The government does not have to operate in a manner that is fiscally responsible like a private corporation (see $14x10^12 national debt if you don't believe me). Its responsibilities do not lie with investors, its makes the rules by which every other entity must abide, and it can bully the tax payer for more money anytime it needs an infusion of funds, not to mention that the primary objective of those who have the most power within its ranks is to get re-elected not provide the best services. No "free market" can operate in a situation in which it must compete with such an entity. It should be obvious to anyone with an IQ over 4 that understands the definition of the word "propaganda" that any justification for having the government enter the health care industry is rooted in the acquisition of power and money by those in power who at all costs wish to remain so.

"Well, we didn't have anyone in line that got shot waiting for our system." -- Nintendo of America Vice President Perrin Kaplan

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