Boeing Picks Atlas V

Boeing Picks Atlas V

Boeing picked the Atlas V as the launch vehicle for its CST-100 commercial crew spacecraft today.

The CST-100 spacecraft is described by Boeing as being larger than the Apollo spacecraft, but smaller than the Orion spacecraft that Lockheed Martin is building for NASA. The plan is for CST-100 to take people to and from low Earth orbit (LEO) landing on the land rather than splashing down in the ocean.

Boeing has been working with Bigelow Aerospace on the commercial crew project for several years. Bigelow Aerospace is developing inflatable space stations for use in LEO that will require a crew transportation system. The companies also are hoping to market the system to NASA as part of the agency’s commercial crew program. Boeing received awards in both of NASA’s Commercial Crew Development (CCDev) competitions.

Boeing’s press release today said that the CST-100 development schedule calls for an autonomous orbital flight, a transonic autonomous abort test, and a crewed launch, all in 2015.

Atlas V is produced by the United Launch Alliance (ULA), a Boeing-Lockheed Martin joint venture that produces both the Atlas V and the Delta IV launch vehicles. NASA and ULA signed an unfunded Space Act Agreement last month that allows the two to share information on the Atlas V with the goal of ensuring that its meets all requirements for launching people int space (“human-rating”). ULA also received a CCDev award in the first round.

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