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Boeing on Monday unveiled the company’s first ever full-size spacecraft.
Similar to the Apollo capsule that took the U.S. to the moon in the 60s and 70s, the CST-100 is a Hershey’s Kiss-shaped vehicle that can fly up to seven astronauts into space.
In demonstrations at Boeing’s Product Support Center in Houston, company officials strapped two astronauts into the spacecraft to give gave reporters a glimpse what it might be like -- and this is a Boeing like you’ve never seen before.
"The interior of the vehicle brings out the best of Boeing. The floor and what we call the seat struts, the seat pallet where the seats sit, were built by our Boeing commercial airplanes folks," Tony Castilleja, a Boeing CST-100 mechanical engineer, told CollectSpace, adding that while the mockup's console was sourced from Bigelow, its display panels were provided by Boeing's St. Louis division.
The CST stands for Crew Space Transportation; the more than 26,000-pound vehicle is meant to ride an Atlas 5 rocket to be launched into outer space.
Boeing is currently in a race with several other companies for NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, including SpaceX, which has completed two round-trip cargo trips to the International Space Station with its vehicles and aims to certify its craft to carry human beings.
NASA presently has no vehicles of its own for transporting human beings into space, since the space shuttle program was retired, instead relying on a very pricey contract with Russia for that capability.
“The current contract is $63 million per seat,” a Boeing official told Fox News. “The United States just signed another contract for six flights for over $70 million per seat. If we perform that business here in the states, we can do it for less than that,” he said.
Last year Congress approved $406 million for NASA to explore this particular program; the space agency hopes to have a capsule flying by 2017.