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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 MrBungle123 on 7/23/2010 11:00:20 PM , Rating: 2
how in Heaven's name can you use the phrase "leftist big government", without falling into depressive self-loathing for being so disingenuous and misleading?

It's pretty easy... See I don't confuse terms I use them when they are appropriate. You seem to think that Republican = Conservative and based on this belief you conclude that I approved of everything "dubya" did. I don't, in fact he did more to piss me off in his last 4 years than he did that made me happy.

He lost me when he pushed for amnesty for illegal's along with that back stabbing election year conservative duche McCain. His 700 Billion Dollar TARP program was a sham; nothing more than a way for those in power to transfer untold amounts of wealth to their cronies via corporate welfare.

What you've allowed yourself to do is fall into the trap of believing that Democrat = Liberal and Republican = Conservative... this is simply not true. The two extremes are the statist super left that places all their hopes, dreams, and aspirations in government and its ability to save them from all pain fiscal, physical, and otherwise... then there is the anarchist super right that would have no government what so ever. with true left being 100 and true right being 0 you will find me ideologically at about 15. Neither major party represents me, as of lately they have both been far too left as far as I'm concerned. The Dems just happen to be wrong more often and as such deserving of more of my criticism, don't think that just because I didn't openly attack them in my last post that I don't have my issues with the Republicans.

"Nowadays, security guys break the Mac every single day. Every single day, they come out with a total exploit, your machine can be taken over totally. I dare anybody to do that once a month on the Windows machine." -- Bill Gates

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