Orbital Sciences Corporation Plans to Develop Cygnus-Based Crew Capsule
Space News is reporting that Virginia-based Orbital Sciences Corporation has plans to develop a Taurus-2 Cygnus-based astronaut crew capsule that will open remarkable possibilities at Virginia's commercial Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport by 2016.
A crew variant of Orbital's Cygnus pressurized cargo module capable of carrying three or four astronauts, along with a human-rated version of Taurus 2, could be developed at a cost of $2 billion to $3 billion requiring significant private investment and supporting space launch infrastructure over the next five years. Orbital Sciences started a study last year.
The White House is being urged by commercial space launch advocates to set aside at least $2.5 billion to stimulate private-sector competition to develop a commercial crew capability. Many commercial spaceflight experts see the recommendation being viewed favorably by the Obama White House.
Orbital Sciences will employ its Taurus-2 medium-lift launch vehicle and the Cygnus spacecraft in order to service the International Space Station (ISS) under the Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) contract from Virginia's Eastern Shore Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport co-located at the NASA Wallops Flight Facility.
Orbital Sciences now joins SpaceX, Bigelow Aerospace, and Excalibur Almaz in the development of commercial human space transport capsules. The four commercial space launch firms will continue development testing in the year(s) ahead prior to any commercial crew launch to orbit.
Meanwhile the civil space sector seeks to advance the development options of the NASA Orion human capsule. Orion options and scenarios are explored in these Lockheed Martin videos one , two , and three  released recently. The Indian government is also planning a new space capsule for a crew of three to debut in 2015 as the operational Russian Soyuz and the Chinese Shenzou capsules continue to soar above their boosters to orbit.