From the outside, Boeing’s new spacecraft mimics the Apollo-era capsules from back in the day. The interior, however, is all about the future.
On Monday at Boeing’s Product Support Center in Houston, two NASA astronauts donned the classic orange spacesuits and went through flight evaluations inside the CST-100, which features tablet technology and the same blue LED lighting found in Boeing’s newer commercial aircraft like the Dreamliner.
“It’s an upgrade,” said NASA astronauts Serena Aunon in the video below. “It’s an American vehicle — of course it’s an upgrade.”
Boeing is developing the CST-100 as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Development program, in which private companies are vying to replace the Space Shuttle as a means of transporting up to seven astronauts to the International Space Station. Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) and Sierra Nevada Corporation are also competing for NASA’s business.
“What you’re not going to find in there is 1,600 switches,” said Chris Ferguson, Director of Boeing Crew and Mission Operations. “When these guys go up this, their primary mission is not to fly this spacecraft — their primary mission is to go to the Space Station for six months. We don’t want to burden them with an inordinate amount of training to fly our vehicle.”
Boeing partner Bigelow Aerospace, which built the outer shell of the capsule, also plans to use the CST-100 to transport people to and from its space complex.
Boeing, which shut down its space shuttle program two years ago, is on schedule to conduct test flights of the CST-100 in 2016, using the Atlas V rocket.
Previously on GeekWire: New Boeing website lets you track 787s in real time, look out virtual windows