With the last
shuttle flight over, the work to build the replacement for getting
astronauts into space is well underway at NASA. The key player for the shuttle
replacement is Boeing. Boeing has been working on the CST-100 crew capsule and
has announced that it has chosen the rocket to launch the capsule.
has chosen the United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket to
launch its Crew Space Transportation CST-100 spacecraft. The choice isn’t
exactly surprising given that Boeing is a member company with the ULA as is
Lockheed Martin. ULA will provide the launch services for orbital flight
assuming NASA chooses Boeing for a development contract with sufficient funds.
"This selection marks a major step forward in
Boeing's efforts to provide NASA with a proven launch capability as part of our
complete commercial crew transportation service,” said John Elbon, vice
president and program manager of Commercial Crew Programs and the source
selection official for Boeing.
Boeing will not start the detailed design work to
integrate the CST-100 with the Atlas V rocket. The work will include refining
the launch abort operations of the rocket to meet the requirements for crew
safety that NASA uses. The crewed launch and other testing are expected to take
place in 2015.
"We are pleased Boeing selected the Atlas V
rocket and believe it is the right vehicle to help usher in the new commercial
era in human spaceflight,” said George Sowers, ULA vice president of Business
Development. “The Atlas V is a cost-effective, reliable vehicle and ULA stands
ready to support Boeing's commercial human spaceflight program."
Being will start with wind tunnel testing of the
Atlas V and the CST-100 capsule later in 2011. The results of the testing will
be used to finish a preliminary design review of the integrated capsule and
launch vehicle in 2012.
the CST-100 in July of last year. The capsule can transport up to seven crew
to the ISS.