Thursday, October 20, 2011

Boeing Conducts CST-100 Abort Tests

Aviation Week reports that Boeing is conducting abort tests of its CST-100 crew capsule.

The article details several design features of the CST-100.

The seven-person capsule carries four Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne Bantam abort engines in the pusher configuration, instead of an escape tower that must be jettisoned if it is not used. That allows the abort fuel to be used for maneuvering if it isn’t needed to push the capsule off a failing launch vehicle, but it also raises future design issues for the Boeing team. While the 54,000-lb.-thrust nitrogen tetroxide/monomethyl hydrazine Bantam is built to burn for 10 min., an abort would require it to fire for only 3 sec.

The CST-100 is one of four NASA commercial crew vehicle candidates. It would launch atop the Atlas V, which currently flies from Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

Rumor has it that Boeing will lease Orbiter Processing Hangar #3 at Kennedy Space Center. KSC Director Bob Cabana has told the media in several recent comments that a hangar lease agreement may be announced soon but hasn't given specifics.

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