Today we continue our look at Commercial Space with Boeing and there contribution to the CCDev/CCDev2 programs.
Working with Bigelow the CST-100 will provide crew and cargo missions to the International Space Station. The CST-100 was first announced by Robert Bigelow in June 2010, just last month NASA announced that Boeing had signed an agreement to use one of the Shuttle OPF buildings as there construction site for the CST modules.
Drawing on their expertise with the Apollo, Space Shuttle and ISS they have quickly demonstrated that they can deliver on the design and with the recent funding from NASA have several milestones that have to be achieved as they work towards being operational by 2015. Clearly the partnership with Bigelow will benefit both companies; as Boeing will have a second destination for CST and Bigelow will have a supplier for their stations.
Boeing have recently been conducting drop tests of their test module to evaluate the design of the airbag cushioning system that will be deployed just before landing. So far Boeing are the only company to use this design and will be interested to see how different the landing will be to some of the other modules. I think overall SpaceX’s design seems to offer the best solution for landing but only time will tell as they continue to test and actual use the systems.
Boeing has designed CST to be compatible with Atlas V, Delta IV and Falcon 9 with Atlas V being the initial launch vehicle during testing.
At present there is no set date for when orbital testing will be performed.