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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 Macrat ( 638047 ) on Sunday June 27, 2010 @03:38AM (#32707566)

    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?

  • by Morty ( 32057 ) on Sunday June 27, 2010 @04:19AM (#32707702) Journal

    Thanks to squares and cubes, a small increase in capsule diameter gives a big increase in floor surface area and total volume. Also, Apollo trips were to the moon and back, which made the time between stops somewhat longer, so it needed to carry more food, water, etc.

    The bigger surprise is that the CST-100 will seat 7 astronauts while the larger Orion was only designed for 6. TFA says that CST-100 will be "less spacious" than Orion, which probably is code for "astronauts will be packed like sardines."

  • More like designing to a standard set of interfaces between launcher and spacecraft, which is indeed good. Just as Boeing's capsule can launch on Falcon 9 as well as Atlas V and Delta IV, then presumably SpaceX's Dragon capsule could be launched on an Atlas or Delta as well as a Falcon.

    These kind of standards are hard to come by, particularly when rocket manufacturers are slow to adapt to changing technologies as well. For example, the Falcon 9 is one of the first spaceflight vehicles designed from the ground up with TCP/IP as a major communications sub-system within the rocket itself. It would seem logical now but such a connection on most other rockets simply doesn't exist (RS-232 and variants is actually quite a bit more common).

    One area that has had at least some effort in terms of standardization has been developing a launch faring for satellite launches. Still, even for something as simple as a way to mount a spacecraft on the top of a rocket, there is unfortunately quite a bit of variation for how that is done. Added on top of that is an issue of docking standards, something that the ISS has been useful for at least in terms of "forcing" some sort of international standard to be developed even though there is a separate Russian and American standard.

    The largest problem with establishing a standard is to convince those involved that by sticking with the standard more can be accomplished instead of rolling your own specification. This is a problem for more than just spaceflight, but competing standards and specifications for spaceflight does add quite a bit to the cost and design of spacecraft. It is also something that government involvement can be used to not just establish but also mandate standards (in terms of requiring government purchased hardware to conform to specific standards).

  • by Artifakt ( 700173 ) on Sunday June 27, 2010 @10:08AM (#32708692)

    I've always wondered, did Von Braun deal with those statements as he was portrayed in the Right Stuff? Werner was both a pretty smart guy, and a former Nazi - I would kind of expect he would integrate the idea of using propaganda to manipulate the public in about 0.037 seconds and be enthusiastically telling the press whatever would push the right buttons.

  • by rickb928 ( 945187 ) on Sunday June 27, 2010 @10:53AM (#32708898) Homepage Journal

    The SM carried consumables like oxygen, propellant, fuel cells, which allowed Apollo to carry other consumables such as food, and of course return payload like lunar rocks, film, etc... These are not needed as much for a ferry to the ISS, so a slightly-larger-than-Apollo capsule could carry quite a few passengers. Mess around with the seating arrangements, and you could fit 7 into a similar capsule. Of course it would be a double-decker, probably, but that works.

  • by Teancum ( 67324 ) <robert_horning@netzero. n e t> on Sunday June 27, 2010 @02:07PM (#32709996) Homepage Journal

    Von Braun not only was skillful in terms of public relations, he teamed up with one of the best in America too: Walt Disney (see [])

    "Manipulating the public" is a pretty harsh term for what is being done here, as I would call it "space advocacy". The one of the things that made what the Nazi's did in terms of propaganda that was "evil" is that they didn't allow dissenting opinions from being expressed. There is nothing to suggest Von Braun was supportive of squelching dissenting opinions, but he certainly knew how to use a soapbox in a representative democracy to express his point of view. He also seemed to be a very skillful politician and a rather proficient engineering manager (perhaps his best skill).

  • by AJWM ( 19027 ) on Sunday June 27, 2010 @03:20PM (#32710406) Homepage

    ISS gets most of its consumables from unmanned Russian Progress capsules. Once the Shuttle stops flying, Progress will be ISS' only resupply.

    Not quite. There's also the European ATV, the first of which, Jules Verne, flew in 2008. It has about three times the capacity of a Progress. Oh, and Progress is pressurized, being basically the hull of a Soyuz. It just doesn't have a full life-support system. You may be thinking of the replaced re-entry module, which on Soyuz is of course pressurized but on Progress contains fuel tankage (routed externally so that a leak will not contaminate station atmosphere).

You will never amount to much. -- Munich Schoolmaster, to Albert Einstein, age 10