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Posted 02 June 2012 - 16:19
Posted 02 June 2012 - 16:27
Posted 02 June 2012 - 18:06
Posted 02 June 2012 - 18:33
Good, it's about darn time!
I think we are littearly starting a "space race" again, this time inside our own country
Posted 02 June 2012 - 18:51
Posted 02 June 2012 - 20:19
Posted 23 September 2012 - 02:36
Flight not guaranteed for Boeing's commercial crew capsule
Boeing may yet shelve future development of its CST-100 capsule, despite a recent award of more than $460 million from NASA's programme to transport astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS).
"Our base business case is based on transportation to ISS through 2020," says John Elbon, Boeing's vice-president of space exploration. Though not formalised, the company requires at least two flights per year from NASA to make the project viable.
"That's just for the ISS. That's kind of the basement," adds Elbon. More flights than those to the ISS are required he says, and Boeing is cautious about over-committing itself while future revenue streams are unclear.
NASA has funding for two full awards and one partial award in the commercial crew integrated capability (CCiCap) programme, to be doled out gradually according to established technical milestones. The two full grants were awarded to Boeing and SpaceX, while Sierra Nevada Corporation won the partial award.
Attached to each space act agreement, as the contracts are known, is an extensive list of optional milestones that takes the companies into flight testing.
While Boeing stands to gain at least $460 million by completing all 19 milestones during the 21-month base period, which would bring the CST-100 through the critical design review stage, an undisclosed, but significant, amount of additional funding may be gained through accomplishing 33 optional milestones.
But the base-period investment alone may not be enough for Boeing to justify continued funding, which may bring CST-100 development to an end.
While the cut-off point "wouldn't be at the end of this base period", says Elbon, it may be in the following option period.
"It's more important to have a definite market there. Obviously Boeing has significant resources, and if there's a business caseit's important that it's clear NASA is committed to the commercial crew programme going forward, that they're going to use it for flights to the ISS, and that we can grow some markets around that."
Boeing is working closely with space station manufacturer Bigelow Aerospace and orbital tourism company Space Adventures in an attempt to secure non-NASA revenue. While Bigelow and Space Adventures have racked up tangible success, neither has yet demonstrated a requirement for regular passenger trips into orbit.
The CCiCap contenders' business cases were among the criteria by which NASA evaluated their proposals. In a NASA justification document released after the selection announcement, Boeing's business case was described in "neutral" terms. It says: "Proposed corporate investment during the CCiCap period does not provide significant industry financial investment and there is an increased risk of having insufficient funding in the base period."
Boeing programme manager John Mulholland said it was difficult to compare the contributions made by companies. He said: "We are only counting things that are direct monetary contributions as an investment, we have a very conservative guideline that we use for what we call true investment. There is a lot of additional contributions we are making to the programme beyond that cash infusion."
Posted 02 July 2013 - 04:17
Boeing, with its CST-100, still aims to demonstrate the seven-person capsule on a three-day manned orbital test flight in 2016, says John Mulholland, vice president and program manager for Commercial Programs. At the recent Space Tech Expo in Long Beach, Calif., he said CST-100 “can be operational as soon as 2016. It is really important for NASA to maintain the 'no-later than 2017' launch date. That's the No. 1 priority and I think NASA, with good reason, wants to maintain competition through the next round. That would be healthy as long as you have the budget to allow that competition in the next round and still fly in 2017.”
Boeing's plan calls for the first two launches (of CST-100) to be on an Atlas, but the company has not ruled out other launchers, including the Falcon 9 developed by CCiCAP rival Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX). “It's got to be compatible with others and we continue to have discussions with SpaceX because once the Falcon 9 has enough flights under its belt and is safe enough to fly crew, we feel we can make that business decision. We'll be going over [to SpaceX] soon to see what it will take to make sure our new vehicle is compatible with the Falcon 9. If the price point stays extremely attractive then that is the smart thing to do.”
Posted 02 July 2013 - 04:45
That is odd, why would boeing go with SpaceX if they make the Atlas V, are they looking at retiring the Atlas V, is it to expensive for them?
Posted 02 July 2013 - 05:24
Posted 23 July 2013 - 04:31
Boeing took the curtain off its proposed commercial spacecraft this morning, allowing a limited number of press and media into one of its Houston facilities to crawl around inside a high-fidelity mockup. The spacecraft, designated the CST-100 (for "Crew Space Transportation"), is a large capsule, resembling a scaled-up version of the iconic Apollo command module.
Cost savings is one of the largest driving forces behind the spacecraft's design—second only to safety. As much as possible, the CST-100 capsule uses "COTS" components (a popular aerospace acronym standing for "Commercial, Off-the-Shelf"), even in its avionics. Boeing Space Exploration vice president (and former astronaut) Chris Ferguson spoke in detail about the control consoles and instrumentation Boeing is planning on using for the CST-100. The plan is to equip astronauts with an "electronic flight bag," much in the same way that commercial airline pilots these days are being equipped with iPads and other consumer tablet hardware for all of their checklists and documentation.
Ferguson explained, in fact, that Boeing plans to use the same type of commercial touchscreen hardware—iPads, or Microsoft Surface tablets, or Android tablets—whichever company is willing to work with Boeing on the design. "If Apple comes to us and says 'Hey, we want you to use our product, and we're willing to do this and this and this,' well, hey, a tablet's a tablet, really!" he said. One of the big factors, though, is matching existing systems on the International Space Station and also upcoming flight systems in the Orion MPCV. Boeing wants there to be as much commonality as possible, so crews will be able to switch between spacecraft and space station without needing huge amounts of additional training. But as far as looking like previous spacecraft, like the space shuttle, CST-100 will be very, very different.
"All the hardware switches you see in there are backup and are never intended to be used normally," Ferguson went on. The cockpit contains hardware switches for all critical systems—opening and closing valves, for example—but the intent is for the crew to be able to fly the spacecraft and do all of its operating tasks through touchscreens. Or to not have the crew do those tasks at all—CST-100 is being designed with the capability to operate totally autonomously, unlike the space shuttle. The latter lacked the ability to be fully operated remotely (though that capability was added in 2006 with the addition of a special cable).
I asked Ferguson about the practicality of operating touchscreens in gloves, since the crew would likely spend their launches and landings in the same orange ACES suits being used by Serena Auñón. He replied that Boeing is investigating including a capacitive mesh layer in the fingers of the suits, sort of along the same lines as the "iPad gloves" folks in northern climates can buy to keep their fingers warm while they poke at their gadgets (though, obviously, much more air-tight and spacesuit-y).
Getting there and back
Boeing plans to have the CST-100 hitch its initial rides into orbit on the Atlas V rocket, coupled with a Centaur upper stage. The combination has an excellent safety record, and Boeing (with assistance from its United Launch Alliance joint venture) will be taking the extra steps necessary to "man-rate" the rocket—that is, prove by NASA's stringent guidelines that the rocket is safe enough to carry humans, rather than the cargo it's currently used for.
Atlas V isn't the only rocket with which CST-100 will be compatible; Boeing is designing the capsule to work with a wide variety of launch systems, including rival SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket. It's even possible that the CST-100 could be lofted by NASA's ultra-heavy-lift Space Launch System when or if it becomes available, though using that large a rocket to lift the CST-100 capsule would be overkill.
Posted 23 July 2013 - 04:57
Reveal of the CST-100 commercial crew engineering test article.
Like Dragon it's upgradeable to beyond Earth orbit operations, but there's been talk Boeing is having trouble making it commercially competitive. This is why there're now talking of launching it on Falcon 9 v1.1 instead of the much more expensive Atlas V.
The first picture reminds me of the TV show called "I Dream of Jeannie" ...
Posted 23 July 2013 - 07:07