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Boeing CST-100 spacecraft updates

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DocM    16,617

 

CST-100, or whatever they call it tomorrow, gets a ring of what looks like stationary grid fins around its periphery.

352ebe68a2a27cd216710309b1fccd5d.jpg

Zoom
ecd48bf4b093d40209d06500774d650d.jpg

The leaks say these were added to give it a smoother ride on the way up through thick air. Must have been a pretty rough ride in the wind tunnel & CFD runs.

Am I wrong to wonder about this reason/excuse - especially given the added mass & drag vs CST-100's need for a Dual Engine Centaur S2, and solids, to get it off the damned ground?

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Draggendrop    5,747

I instantly call BS for aerodynamics...at high speeds, they have introduced quite a bit of orthoginal surface area.....compensation for something...or someone forgot to trim the plywood.....:D

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DocM    16,617

If they have said it was for abort stabilization I wouldn't blink since Dragon 2 has fins and they both use a pusher system. But a rough ride? 

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Draggendrop    5,747

If they have said it was for abort stabilization I wouldn't blink since Dragon 2 has fins and they both use a pusher system. But a rough ride? 

Quite right......as you called it....they are compensating for something, and are not being honest why....I could almost guarantee this will be looked at into deeper detail by the curious now.....bad communications on their part......in this field, honesty is the best policy......good find though.....:)

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DocM    16,617

OK, CST-100 name, pad and hanger progress announcement

Cue the NASA talking heads, check
Cue the politicians, check
Cue the speeches, check

(methinks CST-100's thrusters will run on hot air)

Cue the videos, check 

(LOTS of SpaceX and Bigelow hardware for a Boeing announcement)

Cue the new name: CST-100 Starliner

A tad pretentious maybe? 

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Draggendrop    5,747

You nailed it Doc......:)

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Unobscured Vision    2,678

The design additions/changes are interesting. Looks like they've taken a bunch of cues from Dragon 2/SpaceX design philosophies.

The addition of that ring around the (now larger) Service Module is quite telling. They obviously found out (as some of us likely suspected) that they were getting some negative air resistance in that section during the test launch that affected performance. The ring will help diffuse that -pressure, stabilizing the upper portion of the vehicle in-flight, and the now properly-sized SM will mitigate the rest just by its' size alone. And as an added bonus, Astronauts on EVA can hook onto it as a safety feature. Win-win-win.

The addition of those new Draco-Class (or a derivative) Thrusters is interesting. Are they planning to ditch the Escape Tower? Do they plan to use those as +/- dV Engines? If they do, it would explain the need for the SM to be larger, as it would have to be to carry the extra propellant. We still haven't been told if they plan to use "Starliner" (snicker) for large-body landings (the Moon, Mars, etc), but these could do the job if they have enough propellant. Remember (and this is for those who are unaware), landing isn't just about stopping -- it's about approaching the right way too, and that requires fuel. 

We'll find out more as time goes on.

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DocM    16,617

The Starliner will use a pusher launch abort system consisting of 4 RS-88 Bantam engines mounted at the rear, so no tower, and will land on hard ground (or water in a pinch) using air bags after it drops its heat shield (which IMO is a big potential failure mode waiting to happen.) Those pods are the reaction control system, which also doubles as pitch-yaw thrusters during aborts.

And IMO the Lockheed L-1649 is the REAL STARLINERLockheed_L-1649_Constellation_TWA.thumb.

 

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Unobscured Vision    2,678

Agreed. It's a failure point, and a critical FP that will cost lives if they are using those stupid airbags. I'm with their way of thinking for redundancy, no problem -- but good golly gosh, airbags are not the way to go for ground landings.

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DocM    16,617

I could see the air bags as the backup for a set of Soyuz-style solid landing thrusters. Thats not what they're doing.

Also, Starliner disposes of its heat shield, all its service module engines and the RS-88's, none of which are cheap. OTOH, Dragon 2 keeps them all and they can be reused. SpaceX is already reusing some Dragon parts during the CRS missions.

 

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Draggendrop    5,747

Just my opinion here...but....It appears SpaceX had a completely integrated plan from on onset. Dragon V2 has everything integrated into smooth lines with vehicle reuseability in mind. I look at this rendition of the Boeing capsule and it appears that a lot of planning was not done. Almost like throwing attachments onto a standard capsule, complete the contract steps and collect cash.....this is actually disappointing coming from a company like Boeing, which has many decades of aerospace design experience.

:(

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DocM    16,617

To me the major innovations are the clamshell access for loading & unloading and the inclusion of middeck lockers. Of course the clamshell introduces a very large seal, which makes the pressure hull far more discontinuous than the required pair of hatches. After those it's kinda a cobbled together "the way we've always done it."

 

To me the major innovations are the clamshell access for loading & unloading and the inclusion of middeck lockers. Of course the clamshell introduces a very large seal, which makes the pressure hull far more discontinuous than the required pair of hatches. After those it's kinda a cobbled together "the way we've always done it."

 

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DocM    16,617

 

That last post is doubled because of my getting gateway errors and such. It was supposed to have these images attached.

Physical layout + the clam shell 

_CST-100_Starliner_1_1280.thumb.jpeg.6e3

Air bags

_CST-100_Starliner_2_1280.thumb.jpeg.52e

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Draggendrop    5,747

It may be, during my younger years, I cut my teeth on Boeing aircraft and always liked the larger variants....which is probably why I had a preconception of a sleek, industry jarring design.....times change.....

Just caught your diagram...answers my question about clamshell design......ease of maintenance, most certainly.......but a massive pressure seal for human habitation....have this image of an "oops and open" but they should have addressed this....

Thanks for putting the data up.......:)

edit...I assume the green tanks are thruster fuel and the blue is oxygen?

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Unobscured Vision    2,678

Thanks for the data and image, Doc. Now we can dissect and discuss ... and critique.

This design is, frankly, terrible. TERRIBLE. The limited redundancy they've built in will do nothing more than let them figure out what killed the crew. And yes, that's an educated statement. It's got a couple of differing design philosophies cobbled together; and it's at best "Apollo on steroids" with (now) SpaceX innovations that they've pretty much copied and then put their own spin on. Like China -- they try to take the best thing from several manufacturers from around the world, cobble them together into a single product and just expect that it'll be tens all the way down. The end result is usually terrible at best and a deathtrap at worst.

That's what I think we're looking at here. It's unsafe and it's going to be an unmitigated catastrophe that will cost people their lives eventually. Dragon 2 was built around the technologies it's going to use. This ... thing ... has had technologies slapped onto it that it wasn't meant to accommodate. Yes, feature creep. 

There are so many potential points of failure that going down the list of problems I see would take an hour or two just to type everything out.

And they're seriously going to use rear-to-front servo-loading Solar Arrays? Nope ... nothing can go wrong there. I bet they get a failure rate of 10% just from launch stresses alone on those servos.

Just ... argh. NASA needs to red-light this project NOW and rethink this whole thing.

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Draggendrop    5,747

Honestly, I have not paid much attention to their development of this unit, but I really am disappointed with a product like this coming from Boeing. It is not like they are a start-up and short on funds. Boeing is a huge conglomerate, and should be called to task for this mess. The pride of the country, relying on home grown tech, and these guys weasel out for the quick buck. I really hope SpaceX kicks their (...) and forces them to buckle down and do the job right next time. My real interest has always been the Dragon.....and lately, I like the concept Russia is doing with their new capsule....sleek outside, and plain functional modest interior...will keep tabs on that one as well.

One would think cold temperatures and "O" rings are on every ones mind......curious about the seal now, due to the extreme temperatures of a space environment as well as the heat shock of re-entry...seal is down very low to shield.......:) 

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DocM    16,617

The Starliner Engineering Test Article (ETA) is being assembled. This first Starliner isn't flight hardware but more a platform to make sure everything fits & works before producing a flight spacecraft. Yes, this means the pressure hull mockup touted for the last 4 years was more show than go.

Upper pressure hull/clamshell dome

21113338566_779a40e04e_h.thumb.jpg.d848e

Lower pressure hull

21139565815_cdd6e83230_h.thumb.jpg.356a2

 

 

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DocM    16,617

Service module 

20951437980_8370dc9e40_h.thumb.jpg.e6656

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Draggendrop    5,747

Boeing identifies CST-100 prime landing sites


CST_GroundLanding-copy.thumb.jpg.26cd0aa
Artist’s concept of Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner landing on airbags. Credit: Boeing

The first few flights of Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner commercial crew capsule will likely land on expansive desert plains in New Mexico or Utah, according to a former astronaut charged with developing the spacecraft’s operations scheme.

Boeing is still finalizing a list of five candidate landing sites in the Western United States, but the U.S. Army’s White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico and the Army’s Dugway Proving Ground in Utah will initially be the prime return locations, said Chris Ferguson, deputy manager of the CST-100 Starliner program.

The capsules will parachute to airbag-cushioned landings after each mission, beginning with the CST-100’s first test flights in 2017. Boeing is developing the program under a $4.2 billion contract with NASA, which also has an agreement with SpaceX to give the agency two independent vehicles to ferry astronauts between Earth and the International Space Station.

“We don’t enjoy the tremendous cross range with a capsule vehicle that we had with the space shuttle,” said Ferguson, a two-time shuttle commander who flew on the final shuttle flight in 2011. “That’s why we need a few more sites to give us the landing opportunities over the course of the year that we need. With five sites, we can get about 450 opportunities to land every year.”

That’s assuming no bad weather and stable ground for the capsule’s airbag landing. Ferguson said five landing sites gives Boeing enough options to ensure a landing the same day the spacecraft undocks from the space station, even accounting for poor conditions.

All of the candidates are in the Western United States, allowing the capsule to drop its disposable service module for a destructive re-entry over the Pacific Ocean, Ferguson said.

“Some of the (landing sites) are very familiar to you — Edwards Air Force Base and White Sands,” Ferguson said. “Dugway Proving Ground is a new one … but they have a lot of features that we like. There are others that are candidates. I don’t want to mention them just yet until we can really solidify the details with them, but suffice it to say they’re in the western part of the United States, and we look for areas that no one else is. You can extrapolate where that is. The Southwest is a good place to land.”

 

 CST_Separation__(1).thumb.jpg.43cff2ff5e
Artist’s concept of the CST-100 crew module separating from its service module prior to re-entry. Credit: Boeing

Boeing is taking a different approach to development of its human-rated spacecraft than SpaceX, which has already completed a pad abort test and plans an in-flight abort demo in late 2016. SpaceX is testing as it goes, while Boeing is doing more design work up front.

“A lot of focus is on ensuring, at this phase, that we’ve got full rigor in all our processes and all of our designs, really trying to buy down the risk that something could come up downstream to perturbate either our design or our schedule,” Mulholland said.

Boeing plans no such in-flight escape test, and Mulholland said it can prove out the CST-100 abort system through wind tunnel analyses.

http://spaceflightnow.com/2015/09/22/boeing-identifies-cst-100-prime-landing-sites/

An abort test in a wind tunnel....quite the confidence builder.....are these guys nuts.............:s 

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DocM    16,617

They're trying to minimise their costs as much as possible, with the intent of still making a profit off the CCtCap development contract. Absent a profit they wouldn't be involved. I doubt break even would be enough either.

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Draggendrop    5,747

With the legal implications, I can't see NASA allowing anyone on their watch, being allowed on board till the test is actually done. NASA must be aware of this game and will nail them prior to use. Similar to build the capsule...no revenue until test done (and fix up the cheesy looking outer "aerodynamic" skirt) the one that looks like a tool holder in someones shed.......:s 

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Unobscured Vision    2,678

Abort testing in a wind tunnel ... sheesh. There's NO way that is a substitute for the real thing.

It's more "deathtrap" approaches like these that are going to get Astronauts killed. 

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DocM    16,617

Crew Access Tower's Main Column Rises

Published on Nov 3, 2015
Workers stack the elements for the main column of the Crew Access Tower at Space Launch Complex 41. The tower will serve flight crews and support teams for missions by Boeing's CST-100 Starliner spacecraft.

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Draggendrop    5,747

Half expected to see a "window washer" trolley, on the outside, to lift the astronauts...unless NASA ponied up 1.2 billion for a "space elevator"....OK, I'll try to be less cynical......eventually.......:D

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DocM    16,617

It'll get a proper elevator and zip lines once the internal outfitting is finished.

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