CST-100 approaching ISS
Boeing has proposed developing a version of its CST-100 crew spacecraft to transport cargo to and from the international space station. Credit: Boeing illustration

Houston-based Boeing Space Exploration reported June 13 it had recently completed a review of design changes it made to its Crew Space Transportation (CST)-100 capsule since a systems definition review held last October.

The latest review was conducted May 19 by independent auditors, NASA and the Federal Aviation Administration.

Boeing is refining its CST-100 design with the aid of $92.3 million NASA awarded the company in April under the second round of the agency’s Commercial Crew Development (CCDev) program.

The CST-100 is being designed to ferry crew members to the international space station. Boeing said it plans to conduct test flights in 2014 and 2015 to support operations beginning in 2015, assuming “firm requirements and adequate funding” are both forthcoming.

The system definition review is a precursor to the systems-level preliminary design review Boeing said it expects to complete by early spring 2012.

Meanwhile, Boeing has not decided which launch vehicle will propel the CST-100 into space.

“We are in the midst of considering a variety of rockets in our competition,” Boeing Space Exploration spokesman Edmund Memi told Space News June 13. “We hope to have a decision in late June or early July.”

John Elbon, Boeing Defense, Space & Security’s vice president and general manager of commercial crew systems, told Space News in April that the company had hoped to select a launch vehicle by May.

Some tests of the crew capsule, wind tunnel trials, for example, cannot be completed until Boeing selects a launch vehicle. Boeing has said it eventually wants the CST-100 to be compatible with several rockets. Prospective launch vehicles include rockets made by United Launch Alliance, Space Exploration Technologies Corp. and Arianespace.

Once Boeing selects its initial launch vehicle, it would take about two years to adapt CST-100 to ride atop another, the company said.

In addition to NASA, Boeing envisions selling CST-100 seats to private individuals. Last year, Boeing and Vienna, Va.-based Space Adventures said they were partnering to sell CST-100 flights to tourists, corporations and non-NASA government agencies.



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