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Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Replacement of Boeing Building Space Shuttle

Hurrah! NASA space shuttle got retirement and now aerospace juggernaut is hard at work developing a new capsule-based spaceship to fly people to and from the International Space Station. Which will be the challenging deal with other.

The new Beoing space capsule is a project using the company's recent $18 million award from NASA to advance the concepts and technology necessary to build a commercial crew space transportation system. It is one of several efforts by different U.S. companies to come with new spaceships to fill the void left by NASA's retiring shuttles.

And so far, things have been progressing right on schedule…

Boeing's new spaceship

At the heart of Boeing's new spaceship design is the CST-100 capsule, which will look similar to the cone-shaped Apollo and Orion spacecraft.

The larger Orion vehicles were part of NASA's Constellation program to return astronauts to the moon, and are now slated to serve as a space station lifeboat.

"It's a little smaller than Orion, but a little bigger than Apollo,". "It carries seven, but it's fairly small – it's not as large or as spacious as the Orion."

The capsule is being built for short missions to the space station, meaning it will not be designed to stay in space for long periods of time.

Multiple rocket rides

Boeing plans to launch the CST-100 capsule from Florida, but has yet to determine which rocket will carry it into space.

The spacecraft is being designed for compatibility with a variety of rockets, in much the same way that commercial satellites are. This will give Boeing the flexibility to select an appropriate rocket later in the development process.

And while NASA has outlined a launch target for 2016, the new capsule could be rolled out sooner than expected, which could help fill the gap in future human spaceflight should NASA scrap its Constellation program.

Private space station ferries

NASA isn't the only customer Boeing has in mind for the CST-100. The company has teamed up with Bigelow Aerospace, a Las Vegas-based company that recently joined the Commercial Spaceflight Federation.

Bigelow Aerospace is developing private inflatable space habitats with the goal of launching a commercial space station in 2014.

Keep it affordable

For Boeing, one of their main challenges in expanding their branch of commercial spaceflight is in designing a relatively inexpensive option.

"The unprecedented success of the Falcon 9's inaugural launch clearly demonstrates that it's possible to dramatically reduce the cost of human spaceflight operations," " And, with months and years of demonstrations and tests on the horizon for Boeing, the company can look to the successful launch of Falcon 9 as inspiration and motivation.

"It's always good to see folks succeed in spaceflight. "It certainly provides an impetus for all commercial providers to continue working hard."


On Monday signed into law the 2010 NASA Authorization Act, which adds a space shuttle mission and advances development of a heavy-lift rocket and multipurpose crew exploration vehicle.

Congress also extended space station operations by four years to 2020, which made another shuttle flight crucial to transporting key lab elements to the station.

The additional shuttle flight is scheduled for June to deliver and remove equipment at the International Space Station.

Some supplies and equipment won’t fit on the Russian Federal Space Agency’s Soyuz spacecraft, one of the vehicles that will ferry astronauts to the space station before a commercial vehicle is ready by 2014.

Nelson and U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, co-authored the bill, which received bipartisan support in the House and Senate.

“From a work force standpoint, the extra flight allows NASA, at several space centers, a smooth transition for shuttle workers to the next program,”

United Space Alliance, the primary space shuttle contractor, laid off 333 Houston area employees Oct. 1, two days after Congress approved the NASA authorization bill. Company officials announced the layoffs in July.

The other remaining shuttle flights are scheduled for Nov. 1 and Feb. 27.

Congress will conduct an appropriations review when a lame duck session resumes in November.

Under this bill, the development of a new heavy-lift rocket would start as early as next year. This is a far cry from the 2015 review date for heavy-lifts that Obama had called for.

This means that the space flight gap that NASA is facing potentially stands to be far less expansive than under the president’s original plans. Nelson stated that he views this and other elements of the bill as ensuring that NASA will have a very bright future.