This mannequin is doing important experiments in the BA-330
Space… the final frontier. Sorry, I just always wanted to start a story with that and figured this was the time.
When I was recently invited down to Las Vegas to learn about Boeing’s CST-100 and Bigelow Aerospace’s BA-330 space habitat, I lit up. I love space and, even more so, commercial space. This is the area of space where maybe someday an average Joe might be able to experience what it is like to be up in the heavens. Until then, it will take companies and individuals with money to get commercial space off the ground (literally).
Once inflated, the BA-300 is quite large
The International Space Station is currently expected to have a useful lifespan until about 2020. Firms like Bigelow Aerospace are looking at ways to provide a commercial space habitat to nations and companies who are willing (and able) to pay. Although they have tried a few variants, they are putting quite a bit of effort into the BA-330 Space Habitat (no, it is not related to the Airbus A330).
It is one thing to see drawings of what the BA-330 will look like, versus having a full mock-up. And that is exactly what Bigelow had at their facility in Las Vegas – a true, life-sized version of the BA-330, and I was lucky enough to get a look inside.
The Boeing CST-100 – Image: Boeing
I recently had the opportunity to head to Las Vegas (insert Viva Las Vegas song here) to learn about some pretty interesting advancements in commercial space travel; specifically, with the Crew Space Transportation (CST-100) from Boeing. The company sees an increased demand from governments, corporations, and private citizens to get to space, and they are placing their bet that the CST-100 can provide a solution.
The CST-100 is being designed as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Integrated Capability initiative, which is trying to find a private solution to transport crew and supplies into space. The winner could be considered the replacement for the Space Shuttle.
Boeing is one of three companies (the other two are Space Exploration Technologies, aka SpaceX, and Sierra Nevada Corporation) competing for NASA’s business. When the decision is made, NASA could choose just one winning design, or could choose to go with two. Obviously, Boeing is hoping to be in the winner’s circle.
The goal with the CST-100 is to not to only be functional, but to also provide an impressive interior, and Boeing has some interesting ideas.
Boeing's mock up of what the CST-100 will most likely look like. Photo from Boeing.
The Boeing Company has been making things that go into space for quite some time now. Earlier in the week, they announced plans to possibly start sending normal Joe-Schmos into space…for a price.
Boeing and Space Adventures have created a memorandum of agreement regarding the marketing the transportation of passengers on commercial flight board the Boeing Crew Space Transportation-100 (or CST-100) to low Earth orbit.
Boeing plans to use the CST-100 to transport crews to the International Space Station, but will also provide room for private individuals, companies and pretty much anyone who isn’t NASA to hitch a ride.
Boeing and Space Adventures have not yet set a price per seat for spaceflight participants, but will do so when full-scale development is under way. Boeing continues to advance its design for the CST-100 spacecraft under NASA’s Commercial Crew Development Space Act Agreement. The spacecraft, which can carry seven people, will be able to fly on multiple launch vehicles and is expected to be operational by 2015.
“We are excited about the potential to offer flights on Boeing’s spacecraft,” said Eric Anderson, co-founder and chairman of Space Adventures. “With our customer experience and Boeing’s heritage in human spaceflight, our goal is not only to benefit the individuals who fly to space, but also to help make the resources of space available to the commercial sector by bringing the value from space back to Earth.”
At this point there is no cost set up for these flights, but don’t expect them to be cheap.
In my opinion this is awesome. Virgin Galactic is already well on their way to start space tourism and getting a big company like Boeing involved will just up the stakes and create competition.
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