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NASA Space Science

Boeing Releases Details On New Crew Capsule 66

FleaPlus writes "Boeing has released a number of new details on its CST-100 manned space capsule, being developed in collaboration with commercial space station builder Bigelow Aerospace. Competing with SpaceX's Dragon capsule, the vehicle is designed to be compatible with existing Atlas V, Delta IV, and Falcon 9 rockets, and is planned to carry seven people in a capsule 'a little smaller than Orion, but a little bigger than Apollo.' Funding was jump-started this year with $18M of fixed-price Commercial Crew Development money from NASA, which requires completion of several fabrication and demonstration milestones this year (heat shield, escape system, landing tests, etc.) in order to get the full payment."
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Boeing Releases Details On New Crew Capsule

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  • by Ravenger ( 715905 ) on Sunday June 27, 2010 @03:49AM (#32707600)

    Apollo was designed to go to the moon - trips of ten days or more, and needed to carry all the consumables and equipment needed for the trip. The new capsule is designed for short duration flights to the space station, so presumably it won't need to carry lots of supplies and equipment, hence more space for crew.

  • The Skylab Rescue Mission [wikipedia.org] used the Apollo capsule to seat at least five astronaut. Yes, it is cramped and would not be an ideal situation for a long-term mission, but it does work and the standard Apollo capsule could hold more than just the standard three astronauts.

  • Re:Wait, wait... (Score:3, Informative)

    by Teancum ( 67324 ) <robert_horning AT netzero DOT net> on Sunday June 27, 2010 @08:45AM (#32708364) Homepage Journal

    While I get the reference here, what seems to be your problem with Bigelow Aerospace? That the company seems to have taken over the U.S. Air Force's "Operation Blue Book", or that they don't seem credible in terms of building spacecraft?

    Of anybody who is sending stuff into space, they are the only American company that has any recent experience in actually building and launching a spacecraft capable of supporting a manned spaceflight. SpaceX is working on the Dragon, but it has only one "test flight" and even that wasn't a functioning vehicle. Only Bigelow has actually put something into space to demonstrate real capabilities.

    Yes, there is the Space Shuttle, but that is a 1970's design and that hardly counts as "recent" experience by a company that no longer exists (Rockwell International) on a vehicle that is being discontinued and deserved to be in a museum a couple decades ago.

  • by DerekLyons ( 302214 ) <fairwaterNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Sunday June 27, 2010 @10:57AM (#32708920) Homepage

    Apollo was barely big enough for 3. Something only a "little" bigger is supposed to hold 7?
    Do they sit on each other's laps?

    Actually, they do practically sit in each others laps. Most people don't realize that beneath the couches of the Apollo command module was more-or-less open space [wikimedia.org] - the crew slept down there during flight. Using this space to carry people was first planned back in the 1970's when they modified one command module into the Skylab rescue configuration [nasa.gov].
    So yes, making the capsule just a little taller and a little wider enlarges the crew compartment enough to pack in seven seats.
    The previous posters are partly wrong on supply weight and volume though though: First, the majority of the supplies in the capsule were carried at the astronauts feet in the Lower Equipment Bay (the astronauts actually sat off center in the spacecraft), and you'll need almost the same amount for a station taxi. (The Apollo's configuration was to control the center of gravity, offsetting it controlled re-entry attitude and allowed the spacecraft the limited ability to 'fly' a non ballistic trajectory during re-entry. Almost certainly the station taxi will do the same.) There were also considerable supplies carried in the service module.
    Supplies save less than you might think because of the increase in crew size. Both will require roughly 42 person days of supplies - 3 crew times 14 days for Apollo, 7 crew times 6 days for the new module. Yes, six days. Two days to fly to the station, two days to fly from the station to re-entry, and two days for contingencies. (No, you can't shorten the fly to or fly home portions, those are dictated by orbital mechanics.)
    Considerable weight savings will also come from the the weight reduction in the electrical and electronic systems in the past forty or fifty odd years. (The Apollo guidance system, which weighed a couple of hundred pounds, would weigh less than ten today.)
    But real biggie in terms of weight savings will be in the thinner heat shield (Apollo's needed to be able to stand a high velocity return from the moon, which a station taxi will not). Additional weight can be saved by using modern materials (composites, AL/Li alloys, etc.) for structural components. More weight can also be saved by shrinking the propulsion system - a station taxi has no need to brake itself into lunar orbit or blast itself free from the same.

  • by sznupi ( 719324 ) on Sunday June 27, 2010 @11:13AM (#32708994) Homepage

    Times en route to rendezvous are typically in the range of two days or so. That's still short enough, I guess, for people to not go crazy; having in their mind a specious space station to which they will dock.

  • by sznupi ( 719324 ) on Sunday June 27, 2010 @12:44PM (#32709494) Homepage

    Actually, both docking standards are sort of Russian ;p

    Apart from the one with obvious heritage, there's also APAS, used by Shuttle (and Shenzhou, btw) - with the first version designed by Soviets for use in Apollo-Soyuz project; first spacecraft equipped with it was Soyuz (Apollo carried an adapter).

    Next redesign was built for Buran, to use with Mir. Buran of course never flew to Mir, however...when the Shuttle was visiting there, it was carrying a docking collar designed for Buran. On hich current version is based.

  • by $RANDOMLUSER ( 804576 ) on Sunday June 27, 2010 @01:42PM (#32709888)
    ISS gets most of its consumables from unmanned Russian Progress [wikipedia.org] capsules. Once the Shuttle stops flying, Progress will be ISS' only resupply. Orion was never intended to resupply consumables to ISS, although it was planned to use it for some (pressurized) scientific material ferrying. An (Orion-like) ISS crew-exchange vehicle resupplying two days of food and oxygen from ISS stores isn't as far-fetched as it immediately sounds, considering per-pound launch costs on a man-rated pressurized vehicle (Orion/CST-100), versus an unpressurized, unmanned vehicle (Progress).
  • by CaptDeuce ( 84529 ) on Sunday June 27, 2010 @11:40PM (#32713160) Journal

    Apollo was barely big enough for 3. Something only a "little" bigger is supposed to hold 7?

    As others have pointed out, there was room in the Apollo space craft in the lower bay (i.e, under the seats) that could "snugly" fit two additional astronauts. The amount of supplies would offer little space savings since the majority of consumables (water and oxygen) were provided by the Service Module [wikipedia.org]. Food did not take up much space since it was all dehydrated. The water was generated as a byproduct of the fuel cells.

    One of the largest cubic space savings inside the spacecraft would come from all the avionics. Check out the Command Module [wikimedia.org] interior. Note the size of Command Module Computer (lower right of the Left Side of spacecraft diagram). Examine the Data Storage Equipment (upper right of the Right Side diagram). The control panel was huge. As noted in the wikipedia entry "In total, the command module panels included 24 instruments, 566 switches, 40 event indicators, and 71 lights." Now it could be replaced by four flat screen displays, much smaller and less power hungry instruments, and a lot fewer switches (10-15% maybe?) My guess that equipment specific to Apollo missions would be a wash compared to future missions. Though I do wonder how much space can be recovered by ditching the film and their cameras.

    Now consider that the Boeing spacecraft will be a little larger. I haven't gone over the figures but I would expect that seven economy class airline seats will fit comfortably inside. In any case I expect it would be much more comfortable without that pesky gravity that forces you to keep shifting you body weight to keep your ass from getting numb.

UNIX enhancements aren't.