Boeing’s New Space Capsule

The Crew Space Transport 100 will be easier to fly and a lot roomier

Boeing introduced a new Crew Space Transport, the CST-100 space capsule, a craft that will ferry astronauts to the ISS.

Since the space shuttle was retired, NASA has been hitching rides to the ISS aboard Russian Soyuz Rockets. While that’s okay in the short term, NASA doesn’t see that as a viable solution for getting people and technology up to the ISS forever.

In order to boost space exploration, NASA has created the Commercial Crew Integrated Capability (CCiCap) initiative, a program to develop a privately owned replacement for the space shuttle.

Designed after the Apollo Command Module, Boeing’s CST-100 is a relatively spacious upgrade from the model used during the moon missions of the late 1960s and 70s. Aside from the expected upgrades in fabrics and materials, the CST-100 also has improved avionics and a much simpler, more modern interface to reduce confusion for the astronauts aboard.

According to Chris Ferguson, a former astronaut and director of Boeing’s Crew and Mission Operations, one of the chief goals of this project was to make a craft that was easy for astronauts to use. “What you’re not going to find is 1,100 or 1,600 switches”. Ferguson continued, “When these guys go up in this, they’re primary mission is not to fly this spacecraft, they’re primary mission is to go to the space station for six months. So we don’t want to burden them with an inordinate amount of training to fly this vehicle. We want it to be intuitive.”

In addition to it’s easy to use, intuitive interior, the CST-100 was also created using a weld-free construction technique. Rather than assembling the capsule piece by piece the entire shell of the vehicle was spun-formed, reducing the overall weight of the craft.

As space exploration becomes more of a “luxury” expenditure in the minds of politicians, innovative technologies like those used in the CST-100 will be necessary to keep costs down and exploration moving forward.

Watch an Animation of the CST-100

Images Courtesy of NASA