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NASA Space Science

Boeing Shows Off First Commercial Spacecraft 114

Posted by samzenpus
from the lost-luggage-in-space dept.
coondoggie writes "Boeing today released the first public glimpse of the commercial spacecraft it is working on under an $18 million contract with NASA. Boeing's Crew Space Transportation (CST)-100 can hold seven crew and will be bigger than Apollo but smaller than NASA's Orion, and be able to launch on a variety of different rockets, including Atlas, Delta and Falcon.The company envisions the spacecraft supporting the International Space Station and future Bigelow Aerospace Orbital Space Complex systems. Bigelow is building what it calls 'expandable habitats,' that which are inflatable spacecraft would act as large, less costly space stations."
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Boeing Shows Off First Commercial Spacecraft

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  • by UncleBex (176073) on Wednesday July 21, 2010 @10:41PM (#32986058)

    Interesting that Boeing has finally weighed in with something new for human space transport and that their offering looks very much like a commodity product. Somewhat surprising for such a larger organization that is used to fat government contracts with no competition past the initial bidding. That the capsule will be able to launch on a variety of rockets will hopefully be a boon to the budding commercial space industry. My only fear is that this is a Microsoft-type extend and embrace move to smother the pesky upstarts in the field (e.g. SpaceX, Armadillo, etc.).

    Regardless, it is nice to see that the government and private sectors will soon have an ability to choose, it sure beats the old system.

    • by CrimsonAvenger (580665) on Wednesday July 21, 2010 @10:57PM (#32986134)

      Regardless, it is nice to see that the government and private sectors will soon have an ability to choose, it sure beats the old system.

      Well, it's not like they've actually done more than draw a couple of not-terribly-pretty pictures of their hypothetical spacecraft.

      All we're really seeing here is what Boeing promises to build if the Feds will give them a buttload of money to do the real engineering required.

      Note one key difference between the "previous system" and this announcement - Shuttle actually exists as something more than an advertising brochure....

      • by sznupi (719324) on Wednesday July 21, 2010 @11:16PM (#32986252) Homepage

        Shuttle actually exists as something more than an advertising brochure....

        Does it? The existing vehicle is quite a bit off from what was advertised.

        • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 22, 2010 @08:36AM (#32988476)
          This is just moderator abuse. He's not trolling, he's absolutely right. Shuttle is restricted to LEO, takes MONTHS to turn around, spends at least a day out of every mission checking tiles, has only launched ~130 times in 30 years, and 40% of the fleet has experienced fatal crashes. It hasn't come within 5 AU of the hype from back when it was first proposed.
          • by blincoln (592401)

            It hasn't come within 5 AU of the hype from back when it was first proposed.

            Wasn't most of the "hype" at the beginning of the Shuttle programme based on the assumption that the fleet was going to be much larger and launches much more frequent? If there were 10 or 20 shuttles in rotation, a multi-month turnaround time wouldn't really be an issue.

            I visited the Johnson and Kennedy Space Centers earlier this month, and both of them have full-size mockups of the Shuttle on display. The scale of that vehicle is i

            • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

              by Anonymous Coward

              That hype included a two week turnaround time for individual shuttles.

          • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

            by shadowfaxcrx (1736978)

            The shuttle we have now was supposed to be a proof of concept vehicle. Once we proved that the idea of a reusable space-plane was viable, we were supposed to go ahead and build one that actually worked well. But we didn't. As with so many other NASA programs, the shuttle fell victim to ADD politicians.

            "Well we've BEEN to the moon! So let's scrap the whole program and fire all the engineers that got us there!"

            "Well we've GOT a space shuttle now! Why do we need to build a DIFFERENT one?"

            "Let's go to Mars!"

            "S

            • by Teancum (67324)

              NASA != American spaceflight industry

              The sooner you realize that, the less fear that you have of the future of American spaceflight and where things are going. For myself, I've never seen the American presence in space at a better level and more capable of doing some simply amazing things that have never been done before... ever.

              Yes, most of this is being done and financed by private individuals. That makes it all that much better because they don't have to worry about which political party is in power or

              • The part that worries me about all commercial space flight endeavors, is what you pointed out - Profit motive.

                I have absolutely no doubt that, possibly even while I'm still alive, we'll have a hotel in space. Hell, Carnival will probably have a "space liner" up there one of these days.

                But the trouble with space travel is that we're not exactly talking about the Wright Brothers any more. Two guys dinking around in a bike shop can't spearhead space travel like they did air travel.

                Let's say we want to get to t

                • by downix (84795)

                  Nothing valuable in as far as a natural resource? Dude, have you ever even looked at your typical Nickel-Iron asteroid? Even a small one (1km across) has more base metal than the worlds mines output in a year. Just... floating.... there. We have found Asteroids with heavy Gold and Platinum content as well, one of which was evaluated with a worth of 14 Trillion, that with a T, dollars of *just* Platinum.

                  • I said the moon, not an asteroid, but I think asteroids are problematic too.

                    14 trillion sounds like a lot, but I'm guessing you'd have to spend at least that just to get the hardware in place to get to the asteroid. And the mining crew you sent there is gonna demand a HELL of a big salary, because they're gonna have to be away from their family for years, in a dangerous environment, eating bad food and never getting a vacation until they get back home, at which point they'll have to recover from the effects

                • by Teancum (67324)

                  But the trouble with space travel is that we're not exactly talking about the Wright Brothers any more. Two guys dinking around in a bike shop can't spearhead space travel like they did air travel.

                  Armadillo Aerospace is able to prove that somebody with only relatively modest personal resources indeed can come up with something that is both affordable and doesn't require getting into space. I do believe even more modest and "low-cost" approaches to spaceflight can and eventually will happen, but it will take somebody real gutsy to get that to happen.

                  One area that I think has only been touched lightly is using Hydrogen Peroxide as a propellant, which can make for some extremely cheap rocketry. The on

          • by downix (84795)

            Initial proposal had one launch every 2 weeks, and used the Saturn V as the main booster, to eventually be replaced with a flyback Saturn V. Politics came in, cut the size of the fleet from the original 24 to 6, and one of those has never even been flown into space. Then other Politicians came in and canned the lifting booster of Saturn V, giving that contract to the ATK company and its solid rocket boosters, with the Challenger the result of that. The USAF then came in and nixed the metal heat shield by

      • by sohp (22984) <{snewton} {at} {io.com}> on Wednesday July 21, 2010 @11:21PM (#32986278) Homepage

        If I were SpaceX founder Elon Musk, I'd be hopping mad right now. After developing Falcon9 and Dragon on the basis of a truly competitive commercial space program, the porkbarrel senators for aerospace/defense contractor states wrote a new NASA budget to basically hand money over to Boeing and the rest of the usual cast of trough-feeders to continue but with changes and more delays the Ares/Orion program. This craft will see about as much reality as the Orion did before Boeing is behind schedule and over budget and requests yet more money.

        The whole goal is to crowd out the smaller guys while maintaining the jobs programs in states like Washington, Utah, and Florida.

        Did anyone notice that they don't say where they are going in this capsule? Where are the senators who called Obama's proposed budget a mission to nowhere? This new NASA program doesn't have a destination, either, but at least the dollars keep flowing to the same interests.

        • by sznupi (719324) on Wednesday July 21, 2010 @11:34PM (#32986350) Homepage

          Relax a bit. Bigelow is involved with thise Boeing capsule; seems they want a competition in servicing their stations.

        • by camperdave (969942) on Thursday July 22, 2010 @12:56AM (#32986662) Journal
          SpaceX is months away from test flights of the Dragon capsule. It'll be years before Boeing is anywhere near ready to launch. Besides, SpaceX already has a contract to run crew and cargo up to the ISS.
          • by IrquiM (471313)

            It's only cargo not crew (yet).

            However, this capsule from Boeing is designed to be able to ride on top of a Falcon 9, so I don't see any reason for Space X to be "hopping mad" at all!

            • The only difference between the crew and cargo version is the reclining bucket seats and the in-flight entertainment console. Structurally, they are the same capsule. From the sales brochure:

              All Structures and Mechanisms are designed to be capable of supporting crew transportation, consistent with all relevant NASA standards and Factors of Safety

        • by CraftyJack (1031736) on Thursday July 22, 2010 @08:42AM (#32988520)
          In other words, Boeing is a lot more savvy to how the aerospace market actually works, as opposed to how we would like it to work.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Teancum (67324)

          Did anyone notice that they don't say where they are going in this capsule? Where are the senators who called Obama's proposed budget a mission to nowhere? This new NASA program doesn't have a destination, either, but at least the dollars keep flowing to the same interests.

          Note that Boeing is developing this on their own dime, not as a part of a cost-plus contract where the government takes all of the risk in terms of costs involved in developing the vehicle. That is a huge deal. This is also not a NASA p

          • by dpilot (134227)

            But this also happens to look like Apollo-derived configurations of many years ago. The milk from the government's teat was already long-digested on this. All they needed to do to get to this point was grab old plans and concepts out of the filing cabinet and dust them off. Of course as in all things, that's the easy part.

            • by Teancum (67324)

              But this also happens to look like Apollo-derived configurations of many years ago.

              The only reason it looks like an Apollo capsule is because it happens to share a common flight profile. Physics such as they are requires certain physical dimensions in order to work, and there really are only two significant configurations for a manned vehicle going to orbit: The Apollo blunt-nosed conical configuration or something like the Soyuz that has two parts (an orbital "habitation" module and a very confined re-entry section). I've heard the same kind of complaints about the Chinese Shenzhou sp

              • by dpilot (134227)

                There was a 7-passenger variant of the Apollo capsule designed. I don't remember the circumstance, whether it was during Skylab or the ATSP.

                Obviously form follows function, so things will look alike, but it's also faster to check your filing cabinet first - assuming as you say, you can find it.

                • by Teancum (67324)

                  The Skylab Rescue Mission [wikipedia.org] had a variant for 5 passengers. That was two for piloting the spacecraft up into orbit to dock with Skylab (or another Apollo spacecraft) and then bringing all 5 back down to the Earth during re-entry. It certainly wasn't large enough for prolonged missions in this configuration, and it wasn't intended to be used for launch.

                  There was an "Apollo II" capsule that was going to be the next generation vehicle that had been suggested with some very preliminary designing that happened w

          • by buback (144189)

            Why do you say that they designed this with their own money?
            The first line in the article reads:

            Boeing has released the first public glimpse of the commercial spacecraft it is working on under an $18 million contract with NASA.

            In addition, the article also states:

            In Feb. NASA awarded some $50 million to Blue Origin, Boeing, Paragon Space Development Corporation, Sierra Nevada Corporation and United Launch Alliance to develop and demonstrate safe, reliable, and cost-effective capabilities to transport cargo

            • by Teancum (67324)

              This is not a cost-plus contract, and Boeing is certainly putting a whole bunch of their own skin into the game here. Yes, I get that Boeing is also getting some government money, but it is not, I repeat not a cost-plus contract. If costs start to spiral out of control, it is Boeing that has to foot the bill and not the U.S. government. All of the government money is seed money and the amounts you are talking about here in the past would have been grants for paper studies that wouldn't have even had a si

        • by Nyeerrmm (940927)

          I think he's pretty happy still. His initial business plan was not dependent on NASA. COTS is a great opportunity for them, but thats not under threat -- they didn't get anything concrete out of the new NASA budget. And at any rate, the Iridium contract is a bigger deal right now.

          Besides, this Boeing craft is being conceptualized under the CCDev contract, which is under threat from congress's revision. Dragon is in much better shape.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by FleaPlus (6935)

          If I were SpaceX founder Elon Musk, I'd be hopping mad right now. After developing Falcon9 and Dragon on the basis of a truly competitive commercial space program, the porkbarrel senators for aerospace/defense contractor states wrote a new NASA budget to basically hand money over to Boeing and the rest of the usual cast of trough-feeders to continue but with changes and more delays the Ares/Orion program.

          I think you're conflating two separate things, here, which is understandable, because it's kind of convoluted. The thing is, Boeing is involved in -both- the commercial crew capsule, and is also involved with the Ares program (they're contractors on the upper stage, but LM is the contractor for the Orion capsule). If the current push in Congress for a government-designed launch vehicle goes through, Boeing will also probably be one of the main contractors.

          I personally think their cost-plus government-design

        • by tiqui (1024021)

          If I were SpaceX founder Elon Musk, I'd be hopping mad right now.

          Why? By what right does Elon Musk have any claim to any tax payer money other than for the cargo contract he has?

          If Musk, or any other so-called commercial space company, is in reality just another company looking for a taxpayer-funded government nipple to suck on, then he is no better than an inexperienced version of what we already have

          Let him prove that he is a commercial success by succeeding with only the revenue he generates from comme

      • by UncleBex (176073)

        I agree that it could very well be just a few renderings, but the idea that they are developing a crew capsule with multiple launch vehicles in mind is what interests me. It is a large departure from the old system. So, while the effort may be more a product of Boeing's marketing and art departments than their aerospace engineers, it shows the culture change that the older aerospace/defense contractors are having to undergo to be competitive in the new world of commercialized aerospace endeavors.

        It is an

    • Interesting that Boeing has finally weighed in with something new for human space transport and that their offering looks very much like a commodity product

      It's roughly as interesting as the Sun rising in the East. Or did you somehow thing Boeing and the other big companies were going to ignore a potential market?

      Somewhat surprising for such a larger organization that is used to fat government contracts with no competition past the initial bidding.

      I'm guessing you are unaware that Boeing also has a

      • by Teancum (67324)

        Nope. This is a winner-take-all fight to the finish. The market, absent subsidies, isn't big enough to support more than one supplier.

        The market for commercial manned spaceflight is essentially non-existent. There is Space Adventures that has put some real paying customers into orbit, and there were a few private commercial "passengers" in various capacities that flew on the Space Shuttle. All in all, there certainly is a market for about 3-4 people to orbit per year (more or less) when the price point is between $20-$30 million per seat and the participant is willing to give up about six months of their life (or more) to essentially be

  • What about SpaceX? (Score:3, Informative)

    by kindups (1483627) on Wednesday July 21, 2010 @10:44PM (#32986072)
    I don't think this is the first commerical spacecraft. SpaceX has been working on their Dragon capsule along with the lift vehicles.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Pennidren (1211474)
      I think the bad summary is supposed to mean Boeing's first. It was worth saving the 3 extra letters, though!
    • by sznupi (719324)

      Not only that - "spacecraft" is a rather...general term, encompassing also unmanned ones. Some among those can be easily considered commercial, and for some time.

      Plus - SpaceShipOne is one, if only suborbital. Apart from SpaceX, those guys [wikipedia.org] also have something (even if its heritage is not "pure"...but what is?)

    • by PPH (736903)
      I don't think it even qualifies as commercial. The customer is NASA (gov't).
    • by downix (84795)

      The SNC Dream Chaser is further along than both.

  • by jfengel (409917) on Wednesday July 21, 2010 @10:44PM (#32986080) Homepage Journal

    Here's an article about it that sucks slightly less, with more and bigger paintings:

    http://www.spaceflightnow.com/news/n1007/21boeing/ [spaceflightnow.com]

    It's still a stretch to call it "showing off" when you haven't even got a mock up.

    • by jfruhlinger (470035) on Wednesday July 21, 2010 @11:13PM (#32986238) Homepage

      That second article has a cutaway view of what it would look like inside w/astronauts in it, to give you a sense of scale. Jesus, they're sure crammed in there, aren't they? What would the point of putting in so many people that they could barely move be? I suppose this thing isn't really for Shuttle-style science, just getting people to and from space stations, so they'd only have to be packed in like that for a day or two at a time...

      • by sznupi (719324)

        Since it's even in some collabaration with Bigelow - yeah, mostly just a ferry to some quite spacious station.

        Besides, people voluntarily pack themselves into comparably small spaces anyway; usually even with worse view or less awesome destination.

      • It's a taxi, pure and simple. up to 7 people crammed in. Battery power, air, food and water for 24-48 hours. Not many options: Launch. Reach orbit and dock with station; OR, abort and return to ground.
      • by camperdave (969942) on Thursday July 22, 2010 @01:25AM (#32986752) Journal
        Well, they're kind of crammed on the Dragon [spacex.com], too.

        I'd much rather see an HL-42 [astronautix.com] styled craft. Give me a horizontal landing, on an actual runway. None of this splashing down in the ocean and waiting for the flippin' navy to rescue you.
        • A boating analogy is probably appropriate here: Unless you have a rich benefactor who will pay for the design and development of a large luxury yacht, you have to develop your market first and start with something cheap and easy to build, like a canoe. Right now the government is not willing to play the role of the rich uncle. They want to buy canoes, simple flat bottom boats, and rafts that are adequate for a minor river crossing in good weather.

          OK, so the analogy fails. Boeing could be it's own rich b

        • by strack (1051390)
          for a horizontal landing on a runway, you need wings, heatshields for those wings, landing gear, control surfaces, and servos for them. it adds up to a lot of weight to haul up and down to and from orbit every time, just so you can play pilot. the space shuttle orbiter is 68 freakin tonnes empty, and 78 tonnes with the engines installed, and a extra 24 tonnes for actual payload. compared to what gets into orbit, thats a pretty pathetic fraction thats payload.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by camperdave (969942)
            for a horizontal landing on a runway, you need wings

            True, but there's no reason they can't be packed away until needed. [dutchspace.nl]

            the space shuttle orbiter is 68 freakin tonnes empty, and 78 tonnes with the engines installed, and a extra 24 tonnes for actual payload

            All of which means diddly-squat. The space shuttle is not a crew capsule that sits atop a launch vehicle. The space shuttle *IS* the launch vehicle. As such, it is a completely different beast. Apart from the one characteristic of landing on a ru
            • Those horizontal and vertical control surfaces are going to make some hellish oscillations upon reentry and even during simple orbital maneuvers. To damp those responses, you are going to need very expensive materials and very complex control systems. It's not an unsolvable problem, but it is an expensive one to solve. The nice thing about capsule style landers is that the simple structural framework they are built around negates these problems without more machinery and exotic materials. That's probably on
            • by buback (144189)

              Why would you want something like this x38? It seems to me that what you want in a space taxi is internal volume and safety. I would think a simpler shape for you heat shield would be more reliable, and cheaper, than an complex lifting body plane shape.

              If you're just going to put a parafoil on it anyway, you might as well do the same for a capsule design.

              • Having enough control to perform a landing on the tarmac somewhere is the important detail. Having to have an aircraft carrier group stationed in the Atlantic to rescue the astronauts and salvage the capsule, then having to wash it down, dry it out, and refurbish it has got to be a lot more expensive than having the capsule gently touch down on the runway beside the Vehicle Assembly Building.
                • by Teancum (67324)

                  The reason for an entire carrier task force to be assigned for the recovery of astronauts was both for American prestige (to treat the astronauts as heroes hence giving the U.S. Navy an excellent public relations opportunity) and because of the incredibly lousy guidance computers involved in those flights.

                  Keep in mind that the CPU power of the Apollo Guidance Computer found inside of the Apollo Command Module was roughly the same processing power and nearly the same number of transistors as it typically fou

        • What you're looking for is the Dreamchaser [wikipedia.org], which also got money from NASA under the recent CCDev awards. The point here is that we should end up with options, though I can't imagine more than 2 would be viable (maybe 3 if some are also used for cargo).
        • by dpilot (134227)

          The picture at your HL42 site looks kind of like the thing that Major Steve Austin crashed back in the 1970's. We still can't build his prosthetics even at our current best, and I'll bet the best we could do today would cost a heck of a lot more than $6e6.

          • The picture at your HL42 site looks kind of like the thing that Major Steve Austin crashed back in the 1970's.

            There's a very good reason for that. The HL42 is based on the the HL-10, which was, in turn, based on the Northrop M2-F2. Footage from tests of both the Northrop M2-F2 and the HL-10 were used to create the opening credits of "The Six Million Dollar Man".
      • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        they're sure crammed in there, aren't they? What would the point of putting in so many people that they could barely move be? I suppose this thing isn't really for Shuttle-style science, just getting people to and from space stations, so they'd only have to be packed in like that for a day or two at a time...

        Welcome to the world of Boeing commercial vehicles.

      • by Chris Burke (6130)

        We're trying to make space flight more economical.

        A bigger capsule would be heavier. Economical and heavy are opposites in space flight.

    • by toygeek (473120)

      The days of mockups are over. Who needs to build something to see how it all fits together when it can be done on computer? Development time goes down, costs go down, etc. That's not to say that they're never needed, but building a mockup to prove a concept is just so outmoded.

      • by jfengel (409917)

        I'd have settled for a digital rendering from plans. This isn't even that. These are paintings, containing no more engineering than you'd see on the cover of a sci-fi pulp novel.

        • Are you sure they're paintings? I was going to respond in a similar vein to the previous poster about mock-ups being a bit old school. However, as to them being paintings, the craft renderings look like they came out of CATIA or similar.

    • by elrous0 (869638) *
      I used to have a friend who worked at NASA. He used to joke that the agency was the world's most expensive animation studio, since that's all they really ever produced.
    • by FleaPlus (6935)

      It's still a stretch to call it "showing off" when you haven't even got a mock up.

      A mock-up of an earlier version with model crew inside was shown off last year, back before Bigelow had announced Boeing as its partner (I believe they actually were partnered back then, just hadn't officially announced):

      http://www.space.com/businesstechnology/090814-orion-lite.html [space.com]

  • by thesandtiger (819476) on Wednesday July 21, 2010 @10:54PM (#32986120)

    ... And I was under the impression Boeing wouldn't even get out of bed for that much, you know?

    On the subject of money... There are people who are billionaires to the point where they could easily drop 5, 10 billion bucks on space - why hasn't anyone REALLY wealthy done that?

    • by t33jster (1239616)
      It would seem that the $18 million was to draw the picture & maybe a mockup or two.

      I fear we taxpayers have simply bought a technology that has existed since the 1960's, except now it caries more crew and fewer LEMs.

      Boeing's Crew Space Transportation (CST)-100 can hold seven crew and will be bigger than Apollo

      I guess it's sort of nice that they can stick this nose cone on different rockets, but as far as American innovation goes...yawn.

      • by Nyeerrmm (940927)

        Which was the bigger innovation -- the first expensive gas-powered cars, or the first Model T?

        Its nice to figure out how to do something new. Still, what really makes a difference is when you can reduce the cost and make it more accessible. Business practices and production methods are as important as the final product.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by FleaPlus (6935)

        It would seem that the $18 million was to draw the picture & maybe a mockup or two.

        Actually, there's a fair bit more of that Boeing will have to accomplish if they want the full milestone-based payments, if you look at the Space Act agreement [nasaspaceflight.com] they signed with NASA:

        http://www.nasa.gov/centers/johnson/pdf/444144main_NNJ10TA03S_boeing_saa.pdf [nasa.gov]

        Boeing/Bigelow ($18M): trade study and down-select between pusher-type and tractor-style LAS, system definition review, Abort System Hardware Demonstration Test, Base Heat Shield Fabrication Demonstration, Avionics Systems Integration Facility demonstration, CM Pressure Shell Fabrication Demonstration, Landing System Demonstration (drop test and water uprighting test), Life Support Air Revitalization demonstration, AR&D hardware/software demonstration, Crew Module Mockup demonstration. It also explicitly mentions that the capsule is designed for Atlas, Delta, and Falcon 9 launch vehicles

        Although the crew capsule has been receiving most of the attention, if anything the escape system is the more difficult and costlier part to develop. Although the Russians have extensive experience with them, nobody in the US has built a capsule-based e

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by sznupi (719324)

      Not dropping money right and left, on any fun looking stuff, might be an important part of becoming a billionaire.

      Anyway, some of them do what you ask for, just in a bit more frugal way - SpaceX and Bigelow, for example.

      • There's a difference between dropping money on fun things and spending money to fund what are called good ideas by many and certainly could have HUGE returns (albeit at fairly high risk) and that governments are not doing.

    • Some of the multi-millionaires have been mentioned, but you wanted billionaires so: Jeff Bezos [wikipedia.org]. If they actually pull off a SSTO vehicle I'll be amazed, and it wouldn't be possible at all without his resources. I won't link to Richard Branson, because his plan is much less ambitious and doesn't really fit what you were looking for.
  • by StefanJ (88986) on Wednesday July 21, 2010 @10:56PM (#32986130) Homepage Journal

    Just looking at it . . . wow, inspirational! Like a soaring eagle caught in a trash can, or a supersonic fighter melted down and used to cast an extrusion mold for dog treats.

    • "This kind of crap we can do (or, ehm, draw) with 18 mil..."

      Now fork over 18 bil. and we'll see what we can do!

      This is Boeing after all!

      • Agreed that Boeing is good a milking the tax dollar cow. But they do have another division that has the manufacturing expertise to build (air)craft in quantity on an assembly line in a lean cost effective manner. IF they want to, if there's a market, they could build a disposable shell with a couple of seats for $18 million, in quantity.
        • by Ecuador (740021)

          We are talking about R&D here. Do you seriously think Boeing can (can = want) perform an R&D contract for the government worth just $18 million? It would certainly be a first!
          Now, after the $18 billion R&D they certainly have the expertise to build capsules for $18 mil each.

          • I think if they're convinced there's a market, they'll do the research for $18million in gov't funds, plus their own money. They'll recoup the money later. It's not SOP; but, if they want to, they certainly could do it.
  • This was posted about a month ago: http://science.slashdot.org/story/09/09/26/153251/SpaceX-Announces-Dragon-As-First-Falcon-9-Payload [slashdot.org]. Not the exact same article, but I recognized the quote.

      • by Teancum (67324)

        What makes this not a dupe is that Boeing released many more details about the spacecraft, including its formal "name" or catalog designation, some much more detailed technical drawings about its construction, and that this information was released at a major spaceflight conference that happened this past week. Yes, it is true that the earlier announcement was about the fact that Boeing was going to build the spacecraft, but there is more new information to be had here.

        Unfortunately, the way the slashdot p

    • Awwww snap! Too bad that the dragon COMMERCIAL SPACECRAFT has already achieved orbit. There are some pretty sweet pics of the launch in the link below. http://www.spacex.com/F9-001.php [spacex.com]
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by sznupi (719324)

        To be fair, that's basically a mockup; hardly counts.. Though the proper test vehicle should be in orbit this year.

        Then there are two test spacecraft of Bigelow already orbiting for some time. And plenty commercial telecomm ones.

        • by Teancum (67324)

          It was a broilerplate that exhibited all of the aerodynamic characteristics that would be expected for the real thing. In terms of its launch into orbit, it can be said that the Dragon spacecraft met all of its objectives. Foremost, the #1 objective was not to get blown up before it got to orbit or get plunked into the ocean where it wasn't wanted. Nothing more than broilerplate was necessary to meet that objective.

          The next flight is going to have something a bit more sophisticated that sounds like they

          • by sznupi (719324)

            I don't think it's fair to say that Dragon met all of its objectives in terms of launch - large part of that would be its internal instrumentation, avionics, equipment, etc. surviving the conditions of launch. Which might sound like something which they shouldn't screw up, but since all that stuff was absent - we can't be sure yet.

            • by Teancum (67324)

              What were the objectives for the first launch? Elon Musk essentially said blatantly that he only gave it a 50/50 chance of making it to orbit. It sounds like making it to orbit certainly did meet the objectives of what this particular launch had to make.

              I think it is extremely fair to say that for the first launch that the Dragon met and exceeded all test parameters for that particular launch. The bar may be a bit low for you, but that doesn't say anything about if it met those parameters or not. SpaceX

              • by sznupi (719324)

                You're confusing two different things - meeting objectives of that particular launch, with a corresponding capability which the Dragon spacecraft proper is yet to demonstrate.

                They were looking for something sensible, most valuable in terms of data, and available to launch; so settled on what they had at hand & which is quite close to Dragon spacecraft (mostly a structural mockup which certainly doesn't have at least most of its crucial subsystems) - only as far as the rocket is concerned. The rocket met

  • I guess we define "shows off" differently where I come from.

    I guess I'm old fashioned, but I don't recall ever seeing someone "show off" by showing poor quality mockups of something they never actually intend to make.
  • by Quzak (1047922) on Thursday July 22, 2010 @01:22AM (#32986742)
    Inflatable Spacecraft? If we cant take knives on a plane...just imagine what we cant take on those craft
  • Or does this make Soyuz look state-of-the-art?

  • ... about going into space. It seems like a colossal waste of money to go somewhere, frankly, not all that interesting. With terrestrial destinations, there are sights, sounds, tastes, etc. In space, there's one single sight, and maybe some bragging rights, but that's about it.

    You could look at this as troll, or as an excuse for lively discussion. ;-)

  • So it seems Boeing want in on space tourism? Great, now all i need is tens of millions of dollars and maybe i can get a seat! Guess i'l have to settle for some nasa canvas art [infusionart.co.uk] instead! :-P
  • If that many people can be crammed into this capsule then I think some design "compromises" had to be made in order to save space.
    One example that comes to mind is the space toilet -- it would really suck if you had to shit or urinate in your space suit on the way to the/a station.
    Personally, I'm hoping something like the Kliper [wikipedia.org] design takes off. Horizontal lifting body designs lend themselves to more space plus the added advantage of not having to take as many Gs on atmospheric re-entry.

    Anyway, here's [youtube.com]
  • 18 Million (Score:4, Funny)

    by ThatsNotPudding (1045640) on Thursday July 22, 2010 @07:31AM (#32988074)
    So it's made out of a special carbon fiber called Papier-mâché.
    • by tiqui (1024021)
      While your post was funny, it might interest you to know that there actually have been private aircraft built from a composite that used brown craft/shipping type paper as the fiber. I cannot recall the name of the stuff, but if you look hard enough for experimental composite aircraft construction techniques, you'll find it.
  • by WindBourne (631190) on Thursday July 22, 2010 @08:32AM (#32988444) Journal
    When /. first started, this article would have had 100-300 responses. The same is true of any OS type article. Yet, now it is non-intellectual articles such as facebook, pot, and job's statements, that garner the big discussions. It looks like the techs have left the building.
    • We have to be more careful about logging on and off because our bosses finally figured out what all those hits to slashdot.org meant on their server logs.
    • Re: (Score:1, Offtopic)

      by mcgrew (92797) *

      ...says the man who only got here five years ago...

      • Re: (Score:1, Offtopic)

        by WindBourne (631190)
        Actually, I was here in the early days. I did not create a login because I hated that groups were spamming. Basically, once I saw that /. was for real, then and only then did I create a login. And yes, it was a long time. I think I can even find several of my early AC postings from about early '98.
      • Re: (Score:1, Offtopic)

        by WindBourne (631190)
        btw, IIRC, that sign-up was before 9-11. In fact, I think that it was pre-2000.
    • I don't think you realize it, but you just proved that you're more interested in people stuff than science.
      besides... citation needed.

  • Looks like they just dusted-off one of the old ACRV (Assured Crew Return Vehicle) designs for ISS from the 1990s. IIRC, Boeing proposed a slightly larger Apollo capsule (they got the Apollo IP from their acquisition of North American) with new docking port and mini service module as an ISS lifeboat. What's cheaper than a little napkin engineering followed by some drawings and a powerpoint? why, re-using some napkin engineering, updating a powerpoint and doing a new CG version of a drawing, of course!

    move al

  • Its 2010 and Nasa still utilizes technology which is basicly advanced WW2 technology. All still derived, and in a lot of cases badly derived from Wernher van Brauns efforts to bring man into space. Actually van Brauns concepts had been bold in comparison to what NASA did put up afther they exiled van Braun from working in the US space programm. Competing concepts, like "SpaceShipOne" from Scaled Composites, and NASA`s space Shuttle, have their root in technology at least 50 years old! Whereas NASA's Space-

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