Think space exploration is all pressing buttons, hanging wires and astronaut smarts? Think again as Boeing’s new spacecraft flies astronauts to space in style.
If you ask most people how they think astronauts travel to the International Space Station, the central hub of all of the space goings on as teams work to learn more about our solar system (as well as the solar systems outside of our galaxy, the Milky Way), most would answer ‘in a space shuttle’. The shuttle as we know it lets astronauts float around, performing checks on many of the switches and wires that hang around, with only them knowing what to do, thanks to years of astro-training. But a new commercial spacecraft, from Boeing (as in, the famous plane-makers) is set to let astronauts fly in the coolest way ever.
The spacecraft, called the Crew Space Transportation, or the CST-100, was created thanks to NASA’s funding of several companies whose main aim is to get astronauts and cargo into space in the best way possible. CST-100’s development cost NASA $460 million (£300 million) as they signed a Space Act agreement with Boeing in 2012. And it seems that the project is now ready to transport aero-experts to space.
What those many millions of dollars funded is some of the sleekest design seen in the space race, that would not go a miss in the swankiest geek pad in your home. Blue LEDs decorate the interior of the CST-100, lighting up the place in a beautiful neon hue that will hopefully give travellers a pleasant atmosphere in which to fly to space in. There’s also tablet technology available, which will both make the astronauts jobs far easier, as well as keeping them occupied on the journey.
Chris Ferguson, director of Boeing’s crew and mission operations division (who is also a former NASA astronaut) says that “What you’re not going to find is 1,100 or 1,600 switches”. He also says that Boeing have made the design as such down the fact that “[A team of astronaut’s] primary mission is to go to the space station for six months. So [Boeing] don’t want to burden them with an inordinate amount of training to fly this vehicle. [They] want it to be intuitive.”
While NASA checks have deemed the spacecraft suitable, the space team are stuck using the Russian Soyuz spacecraft to get astronauts to the International Space Station due to possible budgetary constraints. However, we’ll let you know more once this fancy piece of space aero tech prepares to take off the ground.