The Boeing Company

Boeing is developing the Crew Space Transportation (CST-100) crew capsule, initially for launch on an Atlas V. The CST, which can carry a crew of seven, is a cone-shaped capsule resembling the Apollo Command Module, but with a dry­land recovery capability. This new Boeing design is larger than the vehicle which took American astronauts to the Moon between 1968 and 1972, to the Skylab space station in 1973, and docked with a Soviet Soyuz in 1975. However, when compared with the previously proposed Orion deep-space vehicle, the CST-100 is smaller in size.

On August 3, 2012, NASA announced the next step in the development of a new American manned spacecraft by revealing three new partnership agreements with SpaceX ($440 million), Boeing ($460 million), and Sierra Nevada ($212.5 million). As a direct result of Congressional restrictions, the competition was reduced from the original five companies competing for the contract to just two, with a third receiving half funds as an added insurance against unforeseen technical hurdles with either of the other two proposals. SpaceX and Boeing were to develop, test, and mature their designs through to the Critical Design Review (CDR) due in April 2014. This would keep the program on target for its first demonstration flights, which are expected to begin in 2016, achieving operational status from 2017 when the chosen vehicle could be flying crews to the ISS. NASA decided to continue to support the development of Sierra Nevada’s Dream Chaser concept as the backup option, and while the concept is not expected to participate in the CDR phase it will add further technical analysis of the design and concept of lifting body designs to the data already gathered over the previous 50 years.

As these programs are still in development and the details likely to change, it is too early to include specific information here. Hopefully, the vehicle that becomes America’s next operational manned spacecraft launching crews to the ISS will be in service in time for when the next edition of this log is published.

By 2020, it is also expected that the Boeing Orion spacecraft will be available for crew expeditions into deep space, although its final targets are far from certain at this point.

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