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Forum:Commercial Space - Military Space
Topic:[Discuss] Boeing Company's CST-100 spacecraft
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SpaceAholicHave learned through some local governmental officials that a dry lake bed here in our county not to far from where I reside (the Wilcox Playa) is being seriously considered by NASA and Boeing as a recovery location for the CST-100.

Inquiries have gone out to the hospital, law enforcement and public safety agencies to determine what level of organic support can be provided and what will need to be brought in by stakeholders. 2017 was cited as when ops will commence at the Playa.

Robert PearlmanBoeing video release
Boeing Unveils America's First Space Taxi, Unlocks Possibilities for Future

Imagine flying in America's first space taxi, seeing Earth fade into the distance. Boeing is revolutionizing space travel and is one step closer to making it possible for you to experience previously what only astronauts could: space travel.

See more Boeing innovations at

Lou ChinalAny proposal for duration of the first mission? Crew size?
Robert PearlmanBoeing (and for that matter, SpaceX too) has said it is too early to discuss the details of their first uncrewed or crewed test flights.

The only NASA requirement for the crewed demo is that it carry at least one NASA astronaut and that it reaches the space station.

HeadshotCan anyone tell me what the differences will be between the CST-100 and Orion spacecraft?

I know the CST-100 will operate in LEO and the Orion will venture into deep space, but what are the physical/engineering/technical characteristics (besides different "heat shields") to make one suitable for LEO and the other for deep space? GNC systems? Propulsion? ECS?

Robert PearlmanD. All of the above. But to offer one specific example:

CST-100 is equipped with batteries and, to meet NASA's requirements, solar cells lining its bottom, such that it only has enough electricity reserves to reach the space station.

Orion is equipped with batteries as well, but its service module is also outfitted with large solar arrays to generate the electricity needed for longer journeys into space.

Lou ChinalIt was stated that a 12 inch-wide model about 1/14 the size was used for wind tunnel tests. That would mean the CST-100 is 14 feet or 168 inches in diameter? Artists, model builders, graphic designers want to get the scale right.

I have scoured Boeing's website for dimensions. Am I missing something?

Robert PearlmanBoeing plans to announce this summer the crew that will be on a test flight of the company's CST-100 crew vehicle in 2017, as well as reveal the pressure suits the crew will wear, SpaceNews reports.
John Elbon, vice president and general manager for space exploration at Boeing, said in an interview here April 15 that the company hoped to announce this summer the two-person crew that will fly on that test flight, planned for the middle of 2017. One crewmember will be a Boeing test pilot, and the other a NASA astronaut.

Elbon also said Boeing will also unveil later this summer the pressure suits the crew will wear on the vehicle. Those suits are being developed by David Clark Co. of Worcester, Massachusetts, a firm that also developed the pressure suit worn by astronauts on space shuttle missions.

Robert PearlmanFrom Boeing on Twitter:
Upper and lower domes that will form Pressure Shell for CST-100 structural tests arrive at NASA Kennedy.
Robert PearlmanFrom NASA Langley Research Center:
CST-100 Starliner is readied for landing tests at NASA Langley.

SkyMan1958I'm a little surprised by the current posting about the testing of the RL10 engines. What surprises me is that the engine produces "22,300 pounds of thrust" and that only two will be used on the upper stage of the Atlas V to launch the CST-100.

This would give the upper stage 44,600 pounds of thrust, which seems low compared to the single Merlin of a Falcon 9 rocket (with the V1.1 producing 180,000 lbs. of thrust, while the FT variant produces 210,000 lbs. of thrust). Is the upper stage of the Atlas V really only going to produce 44,600 pounds of thrust?

Robert PearlmanYes, a dual engine Centaur generates 44,600 lbf.

Both Atlas V and Falcon 9 have capability to spare to launch Starliner and Dragon missions to low Earth orbit.

Jim BehlingThe MVac is throttled and doesn't produce full thrust for most of the burn duration.

Also to enable first stage recovery, the Falcon 9 stages at different velocities than Atlas does and this requires the Falcon 9 second stage to fight gravity losses more than Atlas.

Robert PearlmanBoeing is delaying its CST-100 Starliner development schedule while still targeting 2018 for its first crewed mission to the space station, reports Aviation Week.
Boeing, which until recently hoped to meet a schedule calling for a first operational mission in mid-2018, says several challenges — some as recently as mid-September — compounded its decision to slide the test and certification program. "When we were faced with these issues it was time for us to step back and say: 'Hey listen, we have to readdress [this] and say what's real and lay in where we are going forward'," says John Mulholland, vice president and program manager for commercial programs in space exploration at Boeing.

"We also put in an additional one-month margin because you carry risk as you move into the integrated qualification test campaign," he adds. While acknowledging the challenges, Mulholland says the company overall is making good progress toward completion of the main precertification flight tests, and says ongoing qualification tests of key components gives Boeing "a lot of confidence" that there are no more hidden hurdles. "We have largely got a lot of the big ticket issues behind us," he adds.

The revised schedule now means the pad abort test originally scheduled for October 2017 will move to January 2018, while the uncrewed orbital flight test due to take place in December 2017 will now occur in June 2018. The first crewed flight has therefore been pushed back from February 2018 to August 2018, a schedule Boeing hopes will provide ample preparation time for the all-important first post-certification mission now slated for the end of that year.

...Three main causes have been identified by Boeing for the slide, all of which the company says are now either resolved, understood or in the process of being corrected. These include development production delays from the supply chain "which are mostly over and stabilizing now, as we get into qualification testing of the first uncrewed flight test," says Mulholland. A second, more recent issue that occurred in September, was a production flaw that forced the scrapping of the upper dome — one of two main structural elements along with the lower dome — of the crew module pressure shell for Spacecraft 2, the vehicle to be used in the first crewed flight test. "It was overmachined due to an issue with the hold-down tooling. Each is cut out from one piece of aluminum that we form into shape and mill out pockets. But the hold-down fixture was not rigid enough and they got some movement, which was not detected and milled through.

"Luckily we formed a spare dome, but this only happened 2.5 weeks ago, and we realized there was an error in it when cooling flow in the pockets drained through," he adds. The domes are manufactured using a weldless spin forming process, but then machined elsewhere into a honeycomb-shape for reduced weight and increased strength.

An additional part of the holdup has been prompted by issues with qualification tests of minor components. "There are lots of composite parts — some with high complexity — and a design which caused difficulty in manufacturing," says Mulholland. "We worked our way through these issues but it took a couple more months than anticipated."

Boeing and United Launch Alliance (ULA) — the company's commercial crew launch partner that will carry the CST-100 to orbit atop an Atlas V — have also been developing a redesign to tackle potential transonic loads issues, which emerged relatively late in testing. "We also worked our way through uneven aerodynamic loading of the Centaur upper stage, which was discovered during final integrated wind-tunnel tests," says Mulholland, who explains the installation of the blunt capsule "caused some uneven loading on the upper stage, which was predicted to result in negative margin at lower Mach numbers."

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