Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Boeing, Bigelow Combine to Provide Access to Private Space Station

Bigelow's proposed BA 330 inflatable space station module.

Aviation Week reports that "Boeing will use the commercial crew capsule it is developing under an agreement with NASA to provide transportation to the private space station that Bigelow Aerospace intends to have in service by 2015."

Dubbed the CST-100, for Crew Transportation System, the partially reusable capsule will be able to fly unmanned or with as many as seven astronauts to the Bigelow Aerospace Orbital Space Complex. The commercial facility is to be built with inflatable modules and have a volume about two-thirds that of the International Space Station (ISS).

Boeing is maturing its design for the vehicle under an $18 million Commercial Crew Development Space Act agreement with NASA.

Brewster Shaw, a former astronaut who leads Boeing’s space exploration efforts, says the ultimate goal is for the CST-100 to be the seed from which Boeing will grow a space business analogous to its vast commercial airplanes segment.

While Boeing says it would be difficult to develop the CST-100 without NASA’s commitment to go forward with a commercial crew vehicle, company officials also say servicing the ISS alone would probably not support the business case for the vehicle.

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