Boeing (NYSE: BA) has passed its second milestone to achieving a spacecraft that can be used to transport astronauts up to the International Space Station. The new spacecraft would replace some outdated crafts that are currently used to transport astronauts into space, and would be ready for use by NASA by 2017. The work is being done in a Kennedy Space Center facility that was used for processing space shuttles in the past, as well. NASA is working with two different companies to come up with a spacecraft that will effectively be running in 2017 to bring the next manned group up to the International Space Station.
The spacecraft is officially stickered the CST-100 and will launch on top of the Atlas V rocket. In a statement, Boeing pointed out that “The CST-100 will be a more simple vehicle to operate than the space shuttle, but the automation is complicated in and of itself, so we need to understand that automation and so does the crew. When Boeing trains our astronauts, they will have to balance simplicity, and giving the crew everything they need to know to manually operate the spacecraft just in case something goes wrong.”
Boeing says that this spacecraft will land via airbags and parachutes. However, that is subject to change, like many aspects heading forward – as the company seeks more approval from NASA, as the company reaches particular milestones throughout the process. The other company that was selected to fly astronauts to the International Space Station was SpaceX.
Altogether though, the review took a whopping 3-weeks and required a lot of work out of all parties involved. Engineers, safety and health experts, as well as performance experts all took a very close look at how the spacecraft would function, how the astronauts would be behaving inside this spacecraft, and how the overall construction was in relation to the expectations of the craft.
NASA has also select three other firms under the Collaborations for Commercial Space Capabilities (CCSC) program. The first one is Final Frontier Design hired for the intra-vehicular activity space suits development, second one is ATK Space Systems for space logistics development and United Launch Alliance for launch vehicle capabilities development.
All of that being said, the spacecraft to this point was met with a lot of positivity from those experts and even beyond. This entire process has been under intense scrutiny since it will be the first privatized flight to space, after the government gave up control over the function itself – with regards to building a spacecraft.
This though is just one of the many processes that the spacecraft will have to undergo to get to where it needs to be to make the trip up to the International Space Station.