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Boeing Shows Off First Commercial Spacecraft

samzenpus posted about 4 years ago | from the lost-luggage-in-space dept.

NASA 114

coondoggie writes "Boeing today released the first public glimpse of the commercial spacecraft it is working on under an $18 million contract with NASA. Boeing's Crew Space Transportation (CST)-100 can hold seven crew and will be bigger than Apollo but smaller than NASA's Orion, and be able to launch on a variety of different rockets, including Atlas, Delta and Falcon.The company envisions the spacecraft supporting the International Space Station and future Bigelow Aerospace Orbital Space Complex systems. Bigelow is building what it calls 'expandable habitats,' that which are inflatable spacecraft would act as large, less costly space stations."

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The Big B finally weighs in. (4, Insightful)

UncleBex (176073) | about 4 years ago | (#32986058)

Interesting that Boeing has finally weighed in with something new for human space transport and that their offering looks very much like a commodity product. Somewhat surprising for such a larger organization that is used to fat government contracts with no competition past the initial bidding. That the capsule will be able to launch on a variety of rockets will hopefully be a boon to the budding commercial space industry. My only fear is that this is a Microsoft-type extend and embrace move to smother the pesky upstarts in the field (e.g. SpaceX, Armadillo, etc.).

Regardless, it is nice to see that the government and private sectors will soon have an ability to choose, it sure beats the old system.

Re:The Big B finally weighs in. (4, Insightful)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | about 4 years ago | (#32986134)

Regardless, it is nice to see that the government and private sectors will soon have an ability to choose, it sure beats the old system.

Well, it's not like they've actually done more than draw a couple of not-terribly-pretty pictures of their hypothetical spacecraft.

All we're really seeing here is what Boeing promises to build if the Feds will give them a buttload of money to do the real engineering required.

Note one key difference between the "previous system" and this announcement - Shuttle actually exists as something more than an advertising brochure....

Re:The Big B finally weighs in. (4, Insightful)

sznupi (719324) | about 4 years ago | (#32986252)

Shuttle actually exists as something more than an advertising brochure....

Does it? The existing vehicle is quite a bit off from what was advertised.

Re:The Big B finally weighs in. (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32988476)

This is just moderator abuse. He's not trolling, he's absolutely right. Shuttle is restricted to LEO, takes MONTHS to turn around, spends at least a day out of every mission checking tiles, has only launched ~130 times in 30 years, and 40% of the fleet has experienced fatal crashes. It hasn't come within 5 AU of the hype from back when it was first proposed.

Re:The Big B finally weighs in. (1)

blincoln (592401) | about 4 years ago | (#32990260)

It hasn't come within 5 AU of the hype from back when it was first proposed.

Wasn't most of the "hype" at the beginning of the Shuttle programme based on the assumption that the fleet was going to be much larger and launches much more frequent? If there were 10 or 20 shuttles in rotation, a multi-month turnaround time wouldn't really be an issue.

I visited the Johnson and Kennedy Space Centers earlier this month, and both of them have full-size mockups of the Shuttle on display. The scale of that vehicle is impressive in person. I can't really say I'm disappointed that it's limited to LEO. The orbiter is, what, 10 times the size/mass of the entire Apollo system that sat on top of a Saturn V? Can you imagine the sort of launch stack it would take to get it beyond LEO?

Also, if the design was such a failure, why is the Air Force looking to replicate basically the same thing (except automated) in the wake of the programme cancellation combined with the (at least near-term) void in terms of US launch capability?

Re:The Big B finally weighs in. (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32990948)

That hype included a two week turnaround time for individual shuttles.

Re:The Big B finally weighs in. (2, Informative)

shadowfaxcrx (1736978) | about 4 years ago | (#32993608)

The shuttle we have now was supposed to be a proof of concept vehicle. Once we proved that the idea of a reusable space-plane was viable, we were supposed to go ahead and build one that actually worked well. But we didn't. As with so many other NASA programs, the shuttle fell victim to ADD politicians.

"Well we've BEEN to the moon! So let's scrap the whole program and fire all the engineers that got us there!"

"Well we've GOT a space shuttle now! Why do we need to build a DIFFERENT one?"

"Let's go to Mars!"

"Screw Mars! Let's dismantle our entire manned spaceflight capability!"

"Well, maybe a little capability .. "

The political cycle that matters is the presidential one. Every 4 to 8 years a new President takes office, and runs over to NASA to reshape it in his image. Trouble is, an 8 year development cycle for something as complex as a manned space vehicle is incredibly short. And so whatever the previous President had them working on gets canceled in favor of whatever the current President wants them to work on - -which will itself get canceled before completion by the next President.

We either need to restructure the President's ability to make changes to NASA's goals (i.e. "You can't just cancel a program that's 75% completed when you take office because you feel like it") or we need to let the commercial companies take over, and sit back and hope they build something useful.

Either way, I think we're screwed.

Re:The Big B finally weighs in. (1)

Teancum (67324) | about 4 years ago | (#32997104)

NASA != American spaceflight industry

The sooner you realize that, the less fear that you have of the future of American spaceflight and where things are going. For myself, I've never seen the American presence in space at a better level and more capable of doing some simply amazing things that have never been done before... ever.

Yes, most of this is being done and financed by private individuals. That makes it all that much better because they don't have to worry about which political party is in power or what the current president thinks about spaceflight. They simply "do it" and get into space. The real problem is coming up with a profit motive that will support private industry. There is profit to be made in space, however, and many people already working at trying to make that happen.

There is stuff that NASA could be doing to help out American industry in general, but for the most part they tend to be a negative drag on commercial spaceflight or even out right block commercial efforts from happening. That the efforts of NASA are now going into a total meltdown in terms of manned spaceflight in particular is to me perhaps the best thing that has happened since Alan Sheppard made his first Mercury flight.

Re:The Big B finally weighs in. (1)

shadowfaxcrx (1736978) | about 4 years ago | (#32997402)

The part that worries me about all commercial space flight endeavors, is what you pointed out - Profit motive.

I have absolutely no doubt that, possibly even while I'm still alive, we'll have a hotel in space. Hell, Carnival will probably have a "space liner" up there one of these days.

But the trouble with space travel is that we're not exactly talking about the Wright Brothers any more. Two guys dinking around in a bike shop can't spearhead space travel like they did air travel.

Let's say we want to get to the moon, but now that the government isn't working on manned spaceflight, we have to rely on private industry.

Well, there's no oil up there. No coal, no natural gas. . Nothing valuable that we know of as far as a natural resource. So the mining and energy companies have no incentive to go there. In fact, no industry is going to give a crap about going to the moon unless we find a reason for them to go get stuff that they can't get here.

The best hope we've got is that some company like Hilton will want to build a hotel there for exotic vacationers. Honeymoon on the moon suites!

But that's unlikely because the kind of money it takes to set up a moon-shot program is astronomical (no pun intended.) They'd have to charge millions per night just to get back their capital outlay, at which point they wouldn't have enough customers to realize a profit.

The moon is the first step to other planets, but if a government doesn't at least provide the groundwork, we'll never get back there.

Re:The Big B finally weighs in. (1)

downix (84795) | about 4 years ago | (#32999380)

Initial proposal had one launch every 2 weeks, and used the Saturn V as the main booster, to eventually be replaced with a flyback Saturn V. Politics came in, cut the size of the fleet from the original 24 to 6, and one of those has never even been flown into space. Then other Politicians came in and canned the lifting booster of Saturn V, giving that contract to the ATK company and its solid rocket boosters, with the Challenger the result of that. The USAF then came in and nixed the metal heat shield by blocking the access for the titanium the shuttle needed, requiring replacement with the lighter ceramic tiles to compensate for the heavier core structure weight, with Columbia being the result of that.

The Shuttle has done well considering.

Re:The Big B finally weighs in. (5, Insightful)

sohp (22984) | about 4 years ago | (#32986278)

If I were SpaceX founder Elon Musk, I'd be hopping mad right now. After developing Falcon9 and Dragon on the basis of a truly competitive commercial space program, the porkbarrel senators for aerospace/defense contractor states wrote a new NASA budget to basically hand money over to Boeing and the rest of the usual cast of trough-feeders to continue but with changes and more delays the Ares/Orion program. This craft will see about as much reality as the Orion did before Boeing is behind schedule and over budget and requests yet more money.

The whole goal is to crowd out the smaller guys while maintaining the jobs programs in states like Washington, Utah, and Florida.

Did anyone notice that they don't say where they are going in this capsule? Where are the senators who called Obama's proposed budget a mission to nowhere? This new NASA program doesn't have a destination, either, but at least the dollars keep flowing to the same interests.

Re:The Big B finally weighs in. (5, Insightful)

sznupi (719324) | about 4 years ago | (#32986350)

Relax a bit. Bigelow is involved with thise Boeing capsule; seems they want a competition in servicing their stations.

Re:The Big B finally weighs in. (4, Informative)

camperdave (969942) | about 4 years ago | (#32986662)

SpaceX is months away from test flights of the Dragon capsule. It'll be years before Boeing is anywhere near ready to launch. Besides, SpaceX already has a contract to run crew and cargo up to the ISS.

Re:The Big B finally weighs in. (1)

IrquiM (471313) | about 4 years ago | (#32997662)

It's only cargo not crew (yet).

However, this capsule from Boeing is designed to be able to ride on top of a Falcon 9, so I don't see any reason for Space X to be "hopping mad" at all!

Re:The Big B finally weighs in. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32987348)

Did anyone notice that they don't say where they are going in this capsule?

Sounds very much like LEO yet again. Because the ISS has turned out to be oh so very useful. [idlewords.com]

DAMMIT NASA TAKE SOME RISKS! WHERE THE FUCK IS MY MOON BASE?? AAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH

Re:The Big B finally weighs in. (1)

Teancum (67324) | about 4 years ago | (#32988684)

Getting to the Moon is very expensive, and at the moment it isn't even an objective for NASA to work on reducing that cost. In fact, with the latest appropriations bill NASA is being ordered by the U.S. Congress to build the safest possible spacecraft and explicitly mentions that cost savings or other factors specifically have to be excluded from any sort of consideration when building those vehicles.

To get a Moon base built with that kind of attitude, it will take a trillion dollars... and even then I wonder how safe it can possibly be when safety is the #1 overriding criteria for development. The U.S. government doesn't have a trillion dollars to give to NASA either, even if it was spread out over 20 years.

Thankfully there are folks like SpaceX who are showing you can safely get to space cheaper.... as long as cost savings is a major objective. There are other companies even that think they can get even cheaper to space than SpaceX, and I wish them well. Unfortunately any likelihood of NASA using those cheaper rockets (like say even a Boeing Delta IV rocket) are getting tossed out the window and being flat out ignored. Since NASA wasn't involved in the development of those vehicles, they don't want anything to do with them.

Yes, the Delta IV would be an order of magnitude cheaper than all of the proposed vehicles that NASA has on the drawing boards, and now they are going to throw a ton of money down another project black hole that is going to churn out a whole bunch of paper, fly a couple "demonstrators" and get canceled in about 4-5 years. I'm talking the "shuttle-derived heavy lift vehicle" that Congress is trying to approve with the latest appropriations bill.

Thankfully, people like Boeing are realizing that if they want to keep their engineers, they also have to put some hardware into orbit. NASA isn't doing that any more, at least with any sort of new hardware.

Re:The Big B finally weighs in. (5, Insightful)

CraftyJack (1031736) | about 4 years ago | (#32988520)

In other words, Boeing is a lot more savvy to how the aerospace market actually works, as opposed to how we would like it to work.

Re:The Big B finally weighs in. (2, Informative)

Teancum (67324) | about 4 years ago | (#32989394)

Did anyone notice that they don't say where they are going in this capsule? Where are the senators who called Obama's proposed budget a mission to nowhere? This new NASA program doesn't have a destination, either, but at least the dollars keep flowing to the same interests.

Note that Boeing is developing this on their own dime, not as a part of a cost-plus contract where the government takes all of the risk in terms of costs involved in developing the vehicle. That is a huge deal. This is also not a NASA project either, and it almost entirely done with private funds.

Still, Boeing would really like to get some additional customers besides Bigelow Aerospace, and the only real game in town for the past several decades has been the U.S. government. The executives at Boeing are trying to be realistic here in terms of thinking that commercial spaceflight customers aren't going to be sufficient to justify the engineering expense for building this vehicle, so they are trying to sweet talk some of their fairy god-senators for some extra money to ensure that they can make a profit off of this design.

One of the things that has kept Boeing in business when many other aircraft building companies have gone under is an insistence that whatever they make has customers before they start the major engineering designs and the ability to at least break even if not make a profit when that happens. It does make them risk-averse and keeps them from creating very innovative designs, but it does make the company profitable and ensures that they will be around for another hundred years. Sometimes it doesn't help to create a wild and crazy new design if nobody is interested in using it afterward.

As for the manned NASA spaceflight program.... it is going to be stuck on the Earth for at least a decade, with the exception of going up on Russian Soyuz rockets. Oh the irony in that thought where Soviet-era and designed equipment is keeping astronauts in orbit. Khrushchev would have been proud.

Re:The Big B finally weighs in. (1)

dpilot (134227) | about 4 years ago | (#32991724)

But this also happens to look like Apollo-derived configurations of many years ago. The milk from the government's teat was already long-digested on this. All they needed to do to get to this point was grab old plans and concepts out of the filing cabinet and dust them off. Of course as in all things, that's the easy part.

Re:The Big B finally weighs in. (1)

Teancum (67324) | about 4 years ago | (#32995316)

But this also happens to look like Apollo-derived configurations of many years ago.

The only reason it looks like an Apollo capsule is because it happens to share a common flight profile. Physics such as they are requires certain physical dimensions in order to work, and there really are only two significant configurations for a manned vehicle going to orbit: The Apollo blunt-nosed conical configuration or something like the Soyuz that has two parts (an orbital "habitation" module and a very confined re-entry section). I've heard the same kind of complaints about the Chinese Shenzhou spacecraft looking like the Russian Soyuz vehicle, even though it shares absolutely none of the engineering or design other than from a very rough grade-school level equivalence.

Ditto for the Apollo-like profile here, as this shares literally none of the vehicle design characteristics of the Apollo spacecraft, with perhaps the exception of the re-entry shield. Even that I'm not entirely sure about. There is far, far more work that would have to be done to build a new spacecraft, and with the changes in materials, electronics, fuels, and safety factors that have been added since the Apollo capsule was built it really is a clean-sheet design from scratch. Nothing, and I mean absolutely nothing in the Apollo design even could be used even if you tried.

This is presuming you could even find the filing cabinet that had the Apollo capsule designs, as the company that built that spacecraft no longer even exists at all. In theory North American was through a series of mergers now a part of Boeing and I suppose that the engineering plans are at some place in the Boeing engineering department, but that doesn't mean they have any usefulness for a design in the 21st Century.

Re:The Big B finally weighs in. (1)

dpilot (134227) | about 4 years ago | (#32995930)

There was a 7-passenger variant of the Apollo capsule designed. I don't remember the circumstance, whether it was during Skylab or the ATSP.

Obviously form follows function, so things will look alike, but it's also faster to check your filing cabinet first - assuming as you say, you can find it.

Re:The Big B finally weighs in. (1)

Teancum (67324) | about 4 years ago | (#32996356)

The Skylab Rescue Mission [wikipedia.org] had a variant for 5 passengers. That was two for piloting the spacecraft up into orbit to dock with Skylab (or another Apollo spacecraft) and then bringing all 5 back down to the Earth during re-entry. It certainly wasn't large enough for prolonged missions in this configuration, and it wasn't intended to be used for launch.

There was an "Apollo II" capsule that was going to be the next generation vehicle that had been suggested with some very preliminary designing that happened which would have involved 5 astronauts in a normal mission profile and up to seven for emergency situations. That was, however, a completely different spacecraft and even when it was proposed would have required a new guidance computer and other system changes.

What you are suggesting here is more the equivalent of somebody in the 1950's trying to see what the Wright Brothers did back 40 years earlier in the design of an aircraft. Yes, that does happen from time to time (such as taking a look at the wing warping technology the Wright Brothers came up with on their original flier), but a wholesale copying of the aircraft for anything but a museum re-creation is not going to happen.

Re:The Big B finally weighs in. (1)

buback (144189) | about 4 years ago | (#32992764)

Why do you say that they designed this with their own money?
The first line in the article reads:

Boeing has released the first public glimpse of the commercial spacecraft it is working on under an $18 million contract with NASA.

In addition, the article also states:

In Feb. NASA awarded some $50 million to Blue Origin, Boeing, Paragon Space Development Corporation, Sierra Nevada Corporation and United Launch Alliance to develop and demonstrate safe, reliable, and cost-effective capabilities to transport cargo and eventually crew to low-Earth orbit and the ISS.

NASAs manned exploration days are 30 years in the past. true, in the past 30 years we have learned a tremendous amount about how to keep humans alive and happy in space. However, they haven't invested nearly enough in basic research and development, most importantly engine development. making rockets more powerful, more efficient, and more resilient will reduce costs and improve safety.

Two of the most interesting ideas of the last decade were sold off to Chang-Diaz and Bigalow. NASA just couldn't afford to spend the money needed to make the technology work, so they sold it hoping others would have better luck with funding. Where did the money go instead? The ISS and the Shuttle.

If we did have a decade without a manned NASA program, I'd welcome it. NASA would probably get more useful research done in those 10 years than they have in the last 25.

Re:The Big B finally weighs in. (1)

Teancum (67324) | about 4 years ago | (#32995156)

This is not a cost-plus contract, and Boeing is certainly putting a whole bunch of their own skin into the game here. Yes, I get that Boeing is also getting some government money, but it is not, I repeat not a cost-plus contract. If costs start to spiral out of control, it is Boeing that has to foot the bill and not the U.S. government. All of the government money is seed money and the amounts you are talking about here in the past would have been grants for paper studies that wouldn't have even had a single piece of metal bent.

Seriously, you think that $68 million dollars is going to get you an orbital spacecraft all by itself? That wouldn't even get you an unmanned spacecraft to the Moon or for that matter even to low-Earth orbit. It couldn't even buy you an unmanned launch on a Soyuz launcher to test the thing, assuming the Russians would want to even try.

For myself, I wouldn't even mind NASA getting out of the spaceflight business entirely, but I don't see that realistically happening. Perhaps building some probes or doing some deep space stuff, but getting to low-Earth orbit is a solved engineering problem and certainly doesn't need additional government resources other than buying a flight from existing launchers that are already very well proven. Not even a "heavy launcher" is really needed even for a manned flight to Mars. It would be "nice" to have such a beast, but it isn't strictly necessary. For the one or two times per year it will be used, it is a luxury that is over the top. Too bad nearly $10-$15 billion are going to be dumped into that fiscal black hole before it is going to be canceled. And it will be canceled... very much likely by the next president (in 2013 or 2017.... it really doesn't matter).

BTW, the TransHab module for the ISS is something I wish had been developed further, and it would be awesome if NASA could schedule a future flight of the Shuttle to get that delivered. Was the module being tested and proofed something that had been fully built, or was that something only partially completed? Yes, I realize it is "illegal" for NASA to put it on the ISS (by explicit law added to one of the NASA appropriation bills). It was a political decision, and the killing of the TransHab module was already an accomplished fact before Bigelow decided to offer to license the technology for himself. I'm glad that somebody is running with it.

Then again, I wish NASA had stuck to its guns with the DC-X program. All of this dickering about not having a manned spaceflight program, complaints about "depending on the Russians", would have been a moot issue had that program simply not been canceled. It was something amazing and could have saved the NASA Astronaut's Office. Instead, it is being developed by Jeff Bezos with Blue Origin instead. I hope that Mr. Bezos has better luck getting it going... and I hope he gets to orbit with it too. That would be the ultimate irony if that ever happened.

Re:The Big B finally weighs in. (1)

Nyeerrmm (940927) | about 4 years ago | (#32989638)

I think he's pretty happy still. His initial business plan was not dependent on NASA. COTS is a great opportunity for them, but thats not under threat -- they didn't get anything concrete out of the new NASA budget. And at any rate, the Iridium contract is a bigger deal right now.

Besides, this Boeing craft is being conceptualized under the CCDev contract, which is under threat from congress's revision. Dragon is in much better shape.

Re:The Big B finally weighs in. (2, Informative)

FleaPlus (6935) | about 4 years ago | (#32990868)

If I were SpaceX founder Elon Musk, I'd be hopping mad right now. After developing Falcon9 and Dragon on the basis of a truly competitive commercial space program, the porkbarrel senators for aerospace/defense contractor states wrote a new NASA budget to basically hand money over to Boeing and the rest of the usual cast of trough-feeders to continue but with changes and more delays the Ares/Orion program.

I think you're conflating two separate things, here, which is understandable, because it's kind of convoluted. The thing is, Boeing is involved in -both- the commercial crew capsule, and is also involved with the Ares program (they're contractors on the upper stage, but LM is the contractor for the Orion capsule). If the current push in Congress for a government-designed launch vehicle goes through, Boeing will also probably be one of the main contractors.

I personally think their cost-plus government-designed launch vehicle work is rather unfortunate, but their fixed-price commercial crew work is pretty awesome. It's important for them to be a competitor in the commercial crew arena, and Elon Musk actually agrees:

(This is from a May interview, and Boeing's changed their tone a fair bit since then. I could've sworn I saw a more recent interview with Musk where he stated that he foresees SpaceX being a cheaper provider alongside Boeing/ULA, but I can't find it)

http://findarticles.com/p/news-articles/analyst-wire/mi_8077/is_20100415/elon-musk-ceo-space-exploration/ai_n53180745/ [findarticles.com]

BRENNAN: But when you look at your business, it's a really interesting venture here. But it is relatively untested. We heard from NASA's chief himself who said he might be more comfortable working with a Boeing, with a Northrop Grumman. Why would a start-up like yours really be able to compete in this space? Relatively untested.

MUSK: Yes, and I agree with that assessment. And I agree with the administrator. In fact, the opponents of Constellation cancellation have tried to strong arm the argument by claiming that Constellation will be cancelled and handed over just to SpaceX, which is actually false.

In fact, what will happen is that there will be multiple providers of space transport to orbit. And Boeing and Lockheed will in fact almost certainly be the largest recipients of that funding. They just won't make quite as much as they would have made under the old program. So hence their opposition.

I do think there's a good likelihood that SpaceX will be one of those providers. But we will be just one provider among many.

Re:The Big B finally weighs in. (1)

tiqui (1024021) | about 4 years ago | (#32999276)

If I were SpaceX founder Elon Musk, I'd be hopping mad right now.

Why? By what right does Elon Musk have any claim to any tax payer money other than for the cargo contract he has?

If Musk, or any other so-called commercial space company, is in reality just another company looking for a taxpayer-funded government nipple to suck on, then he is no better than an inexperienced version of what we already have

Let him prove that he is a commercial success by succeeding with only the revenue he generates from commercial customers and without any taxpayer money

Re:The Big B finally weighs in. (1)

UncleBex (176073) | about 4 years ago | (#32986574)

I agree that it could very well be just a few renderings, but the idea that they are developing a crew capsule with multiple launch vehicles in mind is what interests me. It is a large departure from the old system. So, while the effort may be more a product of Boeing's marketing and art departments than their aerospace engineers, it shows the culture change that the older aerospace/defense contractors are having to undergo to be competitive in the new world of commercialized aerospace endeavors.

It is an attempt at a money grab from the government, that part certainly is not changing, but aerospace has always relied on heavy subsidies from the government since it is typically cutting edge technology which may not have immediately recognizable consumer applications (something which shareholders are not crazy about since they are typically short term thinkers).

Re:The Big B finally weighs in. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32987254)

Note one key difference between the "previous system" and this announcement - Shuttle actually exists as something more than an advertising brochure....

That's exactly what I said when Henry told me about his newfangled "auto mobile. I says to him, I says "Henry, we got horses already, what's all this bully about a self propelling velocipede? I'm sorry, a quadrapede as you've put it. Why, where could you possibly hope for capital for something that does not exist?"

That there Henry with his 'concepts' and 'ideas'. He don't know that you can't make new things, it's all about the things already here! Why, I've used my hammer for 20 years now and it'll last me 20 years henceforth!

Re:The Big B finally weighs in. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32987854)

Henry Ford did not invent the automobile he did develop the streamlined process for mass production of them though.

Re:The Big B finally weighs in. (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | about 4 years ago | (#32986556)

Interesting that Boeing has finally weighed in with something new for human space transport and that their offering looks very much like a commodity product

It's roughly as interesting as the Sun rising in the East. Or did you somehow thing Boeing and the other big companies were going to ignore a potential market?
 

Somewhat surprising for such a larger organization that is used to fat government contracts with no competition past the initial bidding.

I'm guessing you are unaware that Boeing also has a huge commercial division.
 

Regardless, it is nice to see that the government and private sectors will soon have an ability to choose, it sure beats the old system.

Nope. This is a winner-take-all fight to the finish. The market, absent subsidies, isn't big enough to support more than one supplier.

Re:The Big B finally weighs in. (1)

Teancum (67324) | about 4 years ago | (#32989710)

Nope. This is a winner-take-all fight to the finish. The market, absent subsidies, isn't big enough to support more than one supplier.

The market for commercial manned spaceflight is essentially non-existent. There is Space Adventures that has put some real paying customers into orbit, and there were a few private commercial "passengers" in various capacities that flew on the Space Shuttle. All in all, there certainly is a market for about 3-4 people to orbit per year (more or less) when the price point is between $20-$30 million per seat and the participant is willing to give up about six months of their life (or more) to essentially become a fully certified astronaut and become flight-qualified to fly the spacecraft as at least a back-up pilot.

That to me sounds like somebody who wants to take a trip on an airplane on a trans-Atlantic flight having to become FAA certified with a commercial multi-engine & instrument landing certifications on their pilot's license. How many people do you think would take a flight in commercial aviation if that was the minimum qualification for merely being a passenger? There were some people willing to do that back in the 1930's, but not a whole lot of them.

What the market may be for flights into space with a price point under $10 million with people merely being "passengers" and not having to go through any sort of "astronaut training" other than perhaps an hour long class on how to cope with microgravity and an extended pre-flight discussion similar to what most passengers on commercial aviation get in terms of safety equipment (seats as a flotation device and how to use the oxygen masks).... I have no idea at all what that market may be. I think it could be more than what Space Adventures has been able to dig up so far for their Soyuz flights. The question is how much more.

As for subsidies... I understand the reluctance on the part of Boeing to stick out their neck on an unproven business model. For the sake of their shareholders, they simply must have at least some other customer besides Bigelow to pay for the R&D alone that is going to go into this spacecraft, much less setting up an assembly line to put this vehicle into production. Robert Bigelow is a nice guy and has some personal wealth that is useful, but even he can't personally afford to keep Boeing afloat fiscally on this particular vehicle by himself.

As for if more than one company will be successful with orbital commercial manned spaceflight, it will be interesting to see how that works out too. There are about a dozen different companies that are trying to get something to happen in that arena, and it will be interesting to see how many of them will either be acquired in mergers, go bankrupt (like Kistler), or simply stay in the sub-orbital niche and not move on. Scaled Composites has already been acquired by one of the "big boys", and others may follow in that path too.

the bus stop (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32986060)

what is it with black people and the bus stop? anything you see a bus stop, there is always a black person there.

i would bet money that if you put a bus stop in the middle of sibera, hundreds of miles from anyone and left it for a few hours, when you return they would be black people in it. stereotypical black people too. there will be one old man holding a bicycle tire on the rim, muttering to himself. there will be a fat black girl on hell cellphone talking too loud and shaking her finger while doing the "mmmhmm" thing. lastly there will be a 20-something thug-life wanna-be with bloodshot eyes.

black people and the bus stop, it's a mystery.

What about SpaceX? (3, Informative)

kindups (1483627) | about 4 years ago | (#32986072)

I don't think this is the first commerical spacecraft. SpaceX has been working on their Dragon capsule along with the lift vehicles.

Re:What about SpaceX? (2, Insightful)

Pennidren (1211474) | about 4 years ago | (#32986116)

I think the bad summary is supposed to mean Boeing's first. It was worth saving the 3 extra letters, though!

Re:What about SpaceX? (1)

sznupi (719324) | about 4 years ago | (#32986222)

Not only that - "spacecraft" is a rather...general term, encompassing also unmanned ones. Some among those can be easily considered commercial, and for some time.

Plus - SpaceShipOne is one, if only suborbital. Apart from SpaceX, those guys [wikipedia.org] also have something (even if its heritage is not "pure"...but what is?)

Re:What about SpaceX? (1)

PPH (736903) | about 4 years ago | (#32986520)

I don't think it even qualifies as commercial. The customer is NASA (gov't).

If by "show off" you mean "a couple of paintings" (5, Informative)

jfengel (409917) | about 4 years ago | (#32986080)

Here's an article about it that sucks slightly less, with more and bigger paintings:

http://www.spaceflightnow.com/news/n1007/21boeing/ [spaceflightnow.com]

It's still a stretch to call it "showing off" when you haven't even got a mock up.

Re:If by "show off" you mean "a couple of painting (3, Interesting)

jfruhlinger (470035) | about 4 years ago | (#32986238)

That second article has a cutaway view of what it would look like inside w/astronauts in it, to give you a sense of scale. Jesus, they're sure crammed in there, aren't they? What would the point of putting in so many people that they could barely move be? I suppose this thing isn't really for Shuttle-style science, just getting people to and from space stations, so they'd only have to be packed in like that for a day or two at a time...

Re:If by "show off" you mean "a couple of painting (1)

sznupi (719324) | about 4 years ago | (#32986282)

Since it's even in some collabaration with Bigelow - yeah, mostly just a ferry to some quite spacious station.

Besides, people voluntarily pack themselves into comparably small spaces anyway; usually even with worse view or less awesome destination.

Re:If by "show off" you mean "a couple of painting (1)

confused one (671304) | about 4 years ago | (#32986458)

It's a taxi, pure and simple. up to 7 people crammed in. Battery power, air, food and water for 24-48 hours. Not many options: Launch. Reach orbit and dock with station; OR, abort and return to ground.

Re:If by "show off" you mean "a couple of painting (3, Interesting)

camperdave (969942) | about 4 years ago | (#32986752)

Well, they're kind of crammed on the Dragon [spacex.com] , too.

I'd much rather see an HL-42 [astronautix.com] styled craft. Give me a horizontal landing, on an actual runway. None of this splashing down in the ocean and waiting for the flippin' navy to rescue you.

Re:If by "show off" you mean "a couple of painting (1)

confused one (671304) | about 4 years ago | (#32987934)

A boating analogy is probably appropriate here: Unless you have a rich benefactor who will pay for the design and development of a large luxury yacht, you have to develop your market first and start with something cheap and easy to build, like a canoe. Right now the government is not willing to play the role of the rich uncle. They want to buy canoes, simple flat bottom boats, and rafts that are adequate for a minor river crossing in good weather.

OK, so the analogy fails. Boeing could be it's own rich benefactor.... They're still a business. a business that is watching other small upstart rivals (SpaceX and Orbital) develop the market with some success. This is on top of an existing successful rival in the Russian Soyuz. Boeing has to respond to that.

Re:If by "show off" you mean "a couple of painting (1)

strack (1051390) | about 4 years ago | (#32988028)

for a horizontal landing on a runway, you need wings, heatshields for those wings, landing gear, control surfaces, and servos for them. it adds up to a lot of weight to haul up and down to and from orbit every time, just so you can play pilot. the space shuttle orbiter is 68 freakin tonnes empty, and 78 tonnes with the engines installed, and a extra 24 tonnes for actual payload. compared to what gets into orbit, thats a pretty pathetic fraction thats payload.

Re:If by "show off" you mean "a couple of painting (2, Insightful)

camperdave (969942) | about 4 years ago | (#32989666)

for a horizontal landing on a runway, you need wings

True, but there's no reason they can't be packed away until needed. [dutchspace.nl]

the space shuttle orbiter is 68 freakin tonnes empty, and 78 tonnes with the engines installed, and a extra 24 tonnes for actual payload

All of which means diddly-squat. The space shuttle is not a crew capsule that sits atop a launch vehicle. The space shuttle *IS* the launch vehicle. As such, it is a completely different beast. Apart from the one characteristic of landing on a runway, it has almost nothing in common with an HL-42/X-38 style vehicle.

Re:If by "show off" you mean "a couple of painting (1)

BJ_Covert_Action (1499847) | about 4 years ago | (#32991354)

Those horizontal and vertical control surfaces are going to make some hellish oscillations upon reentry and even during simple orbital maneuvers. To damp those responses, you are going to need very expensive materials and very complex control systems. It's not an unsolvable problem, but it is an expensive one to solve. The nice thing about capsule style landers is that the simple structural framework they are built around negates these problems without more machinery and exotic materials. That's probably one of the design drivers when drafting plans for a quick turn around, reusable space transportation system. Less complexity also means less maintenance costs.

Re:If by "show off" you mean "a couple of painting (1)

buback (144189) | about 4 years ago | (#32993188)

Why would you want something like this x38? It seems to me that what you want in a space taxi is internal volume and safety. I would think a simpler shape for you heat shield would be more reliable, and cheaper, than an complex lifting body plane shape.

If you're just going to put a parafoil on it anyway, you might as well do the same for a capsule design.

Re:If by "show off" you mean "a couple of painting (1)

camperdave (969942) | about 4 years ago | (#32996188)

Having enough control to perform a landing on the tarmac somewhere is the important detail. Having to have an aircraft carrier group stationed in the Atlantic to rescue the astronauts and salvage the capsule, then having to wash it down, dry it out, and refurbish it has got to be a lot more expensive than having the capsule gently touch down on the runway beside the Vehicle Assembly Building.

Re:If by "show off" you mean "a couple of painting (1)

Teancum (67324) | about 4 years ago | (#32997890)

The reason for an entire carrier task force to be assigned for the recovery of astronauts was both for American prestige (to treat the astronauts as heroes hence giving the U.S. Navy an excellent public relations opportunity) and because of the incredibly lousy guidance computers involved in those flights.

Keep in mind that the CPU power of the Apollo Guidance Computer found inside of the Apollo Command Module was roughly the same processing power and nearly the same number of transistors as it typically found in a modern hotel card-key entry system on an ordinary hotel room door. Saying it is comparable to a modern cellphone doesn't do the cell phone justice. A cell phone has the CPU power of almost all of NASA in the mid-1960's including the equipment at Mission Control in Houston. This includes multi-tasking capabilities too.

Basically, back during the Apollo days, NASA was luck to hit a target about the size of the Pacific Ocean, and the astronauts even trained for the potential to be landing in even more exotic and remote locations in case they missed that ocean completely. With modern guidance systems, GPS navigation, and other factors included it is no longer necessary to have a full carrier group for the recovery of a ballistic capsule, if it was really even necessary earlier. Perhaps a ship to perform the recovery, such as the two ships NASA currently has [wikipedia.org] to recover the SRBs after each Shuttle launch.

Re:If by "show off" you mean "a couple of painting (1)

Confusador (1783468) | about 4 years ago | (#32990368)

What you're looking for is the Dreamchaser [wikipedia.org] , which also got money from NASA under the recent CCDev awards. The point here is that we should end up with options, though I can't imagine more than 2 would be viable (maybe 3 if some are also used for cargo).

Re:If by "show off" you mean "a couple of painting (1)

dpilot (134227) | about 4 years ago | (#32991632)

The picture at your HL42 site looks kind of like the thing that Major Steve Austin crashed back in the 1970's. We still can't build his prosthetics even at our current best, and I'll bet the best we could do today would cost a heck of a lot more than $6e6.

Re:If by "show off" you mean "a couple of painting (1)

camperdave (969942) | about 4 years ago | (#32996680)

The picture at your HL42 site looks kind of like the thing that Major Steve Austin crashed back in the 1970's.

There's a very good reason for that. The HL42 is based on the the HL-10, which was, in turn, based on the Northrop M2-F2. Footage from tests of both the Northrop M2-F2 and the HL-10 were used to create the opening credits of "The Six Million Dollar Man".

Re:If by "show off" you mean "a couple of painting (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32988060)

they're sure crammed in there, aren't they? What would the point of putting in so many people that they could barely move be? I suppose this thing isn't really for Shuttle-style science, just getting people to and from space stations, so they'd only have to be packed in like that for a day or two at a time...

Welcome to the world of Boeing commercial vehicles.

Re:If by "show off" you mean "a couple of painting (1)

Chris Burke (6130) | about 4 years ago | (#32990956)

We're trying to make space flight more economical.

A bigger capsule would be heavier. Economical and heavy are opposites in space flight.

Re:If by "show off" you mean "a couple of painting (1)

toygeek (473120) | about 4 years ago | (#32986698)

The days of mockups are over. Who needs to build something to see how it all fits together when it can be done on computer? Development time goes down, costs go down, etc. That's not to say that they're never needed, but building a mockup to prove a concept is just so outmoded.

Re:If by "show off" you mean "a couple of painting (1)

jfengel (409917) | about 4 years ago | (#32992128)

I'd have settled for a digital rendering from plans. This isn't even that. These are paintings, containing no more engineering than you'd see on the cover of a sci-fi pulp novel.

Re:If by "show off" you mean "a couple of painting (1)

konohitowa (220547) | about 4 years ago | (#32999266)

Are you sure they're paintings? I was going to respond in a similar vein to the previous poster about mock-ups being a bit old school. However, as to them being paintings, the craft renderings look like they came out of CATIA or similar.

Re:If by "show off" you mean "a couple of painting (1)

elrous0 (869638) | about 4 years ago | (#32989252)

I used to have a friend who worked at NASA. He used to joke that the agency was the world's most expensive animation studio, since that's all they really ever produced.

Re:If by "show off" you mean "a couple of painting (1)

FleaPlus (6935) | about 4 years ago | (#32991006)

It's still a stretch to call it "showing off" when you haven't even got a mock up.

A mock-up of an earlier version with model crew inside was shown off last year, back before Bigelow had announced Boeing as its partner (I believe they actually were partnered back then, just hadn't officially announced):

http://www.space.com/businesstechnology/090814-orion-lite.html [space.com]

I saw $18M for the price-tag... (2, Insightful)

thesandtiger (819476) | about 4 years ago | (#32986120)

... And I was under the impression Boeing wouldn't even get out of bed for that much, you know?

On the subject of money... There are people who are billionaires to the point where they could easily drop 5, 10 billion bucks on space - why hasn't anyone REALLY wealthy done that?

Re:I saw $18M for the price-tag... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32986170)

D.D. Harriman hasn't been born yet.

Re:I saw $18M for the price-tag... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32989142)

In RAH's universe, he's already dead (after getting to the moon)

Re:I saw $18M for the price-tag... (1)

t33jster (1239616) | about 4 years ago | (#32986306)

It would seem that the $18 million was to draw the picture & maybe a mockup or two.

I fear we taxpayers have simply bought a technology that has existed since the 1960's, except now it caries more crew and fewer LEMs.

Boeing's Crew Space Transportation (CST)-100 can hold seven crew and will be bigger than Apollo

I guess it's sort of nice that they can stick this nose cone on different rockets, but as far as American innovation goes...yawn.

Re:I saw $18M for the price-tag... (1)

Nyeerrmm (940927) | about 4 years ago | (#32987202)

Which was the bigger innovation -- the first expensive gas-powered cars, or the first Model T?

Its nice to figure out how to do something new. Still, what really makes a difference is when you can reduce the cost and make it more accessible. Business practices and production methods are as important as the final product.

Re:I saw $18M for the price-tag... (2, Interesting)

FleaPlus (6935) | about 4 years ago | (#32991270)

It would seem that the $18 million was to draw the picture & maybe a mockup or two.

Actually, there's a fair bit more of that Boeing will have to accomplish if they want the full milestone-based payments, if you look at the Space Act agreement [nasaspaceflight.com] they signed with NASA:

http://www.nasa.gov/centers/johnson/pdf/444144main_NNJ10TA03S_boeing_saa.pdf [nasa.gov]

Boeing/Bigelow ($18M): trade study and down-select between pusher-type and tractor-style LAS, system definition review, Abort System Hardware Demonstration Test, Base Heat Shield Fabrication Demonstration, Avionics Systems Integration Facility demonstration, CM Pressure Shell Fabrication Demonstration, Landing System Demonstration (drop test and water uprighting test), Life Support Air Revitalization demonstration, AR&D hardware/software demonstration, Crew Module Mockup demonstration. It also explicitly mentions that the capsule is designed for Atlas, Delta, and Falcon 9 launch vehicles

Although the crew capsule has been receiving most of the attention, if anything the escape system is the more difficult and costlier part to develop. Although the Russians have extensive experience with them, nobody in the US has built a capsule-based escape system since the 60s or 70s. SpaceX, Boeing, and Blue Origin are also working on developing novel "push-based" (rather than the typical tractor-based) escape systems, and I'm curious if they'll end up consolidating their efforts if Congress doesn't come through with sufficient commercial crew development funding.

Finally, I don't think anybody's yet posted the video of the CST-100 (it's somewhat rudimentary, but does the job of depicting the basic architecture):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mn_gXEK5XmQ [youtube.com]

Re:I saw $18M for the price-tag... (2, Insightful)

sznupi (719324) | about 4 years ago | (#32986308)

Not dropping money right and left, on any fun looking stuff, might be an important part of becoming a billionaire.

Anyway, some of them do what you ask for, just in a bit more frugal way - SpaceX and Bigelow, for example.

Re:I saw $18M for the price-tag... (1)

thesandtiger (819476) | about 4 years ago | (#32988456)

There's a difference between dropping money on fun things and spending money to fund what are called good ideas by many and certainly could have HUGE returns (albeit at fairly high risk) and that governments are not doing.

Re:I saw $18M for the price-tag... (1)

Confusador (1783468) | about 4 years ago | (#32990480)

Some of the multi-millionaires have been mentioned, but you wanted billionaires so: Jeff Bezos [wikipedia.org] . If they actually pull off a SSTO vehicle I'll be amazed, and it wouldn't be possible at all without his resources. I won't link to Richard Branson, because his plan is much less ambitious and doesn't really fit what you were looking for.

Man, that thing has serious lines! (3, Insightful)

StefanJ (88986) | about 4 years ago | (#32986130)

Just looking at it . . . wow, inspirational! Like a soaring eagle caught in a trash can, or a supersonic fighter melted down and used to cast an extrusion mold for dog treats.

Re:Man, that thing has serious lines! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32986690)

So you're saying that looks matter more than functionality? Do you work for Microsoft?

Re:Man, that thing has serious lines! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32986746)

Don't be rash, he's in the process of transition. He was previously employeed as an antenna engineer for Apple.

Duh... (1)

Ecuador (740021) | about 4 years ago | (#32987404)

"This kind of crap we can do (or, ehm, draw) with 18 mil..."

Now fork over 18 bil. and we'll see what we can do!

This is Boeing after all!

Re:Duh... (1)

confused one (671304) | about 4 years ago | (#32987986)

Agreed that Boeing is good a milking the tax dollar cow. But they do have another division that has the manufacturing expertise to build (air)craft in quantity on an assembly line in a lean cost effective manner. IF they want to, if there's a market, they could build a disposable shell with a couple of seats for $18 million, in quantity.

Re:Duh... (1)

Ecuador (740021) | about 4 years ago | (#32988078)

We are talking about R&D here. Do you seriously think Boeing can (can = want) perform an R&D contract for the government worth just $18 million? It would certainly be a first!
Now, after the $18 billion R&D they certainly have the expertise to build capsules for $18 mil each.

Re:Duh... (1)

confused one (671304) | about 4 years ago | (#32997260)

I think if they're convinced there's a market, they'll do the research for $18million in gov't funds, plus their own money. They'll recoup the money later. It's not SOP; but, if they want to, they certainly could do it.

Dupe (1)

rockNme2349 (1414329) | about 4 years ago | (#32986132)

This was posted about a month ago: http://science.slashdot.org/story/09/09/26/153251/SpaceX-Announces-Dragon-As-First-Falcon-9-Payload [slashdot.org] . Not the exact same article, but I recognized the quote.

Re:Dupe (1)

rockNme2349 (1414329) | about 4 years ago | (#32986144)

Re:Dupe (1)

Teancum (67324) | about 4 years ago | (#32994808)

What makes this not a dupe is that Boeing released many more details about the spacecraft, including its formal "name" or catalog designation, some much more detailed technical drawings about its construction, and that this information was released at a major spaceflight conference that happened this past week. Yes, it is true that the earlier announcement was about the fact that Boeing was going to build the spacecraft, but there is more new information to be had here.

Unfortunately, the way the slashdot post was written implied that this was the first time it had been talked about. Too bad it didn't say "Boeing has just released more details about their upcoming spacecraft, now named the CST-100." That would have been very useful information and acknowledging the previous story.

Re:Dupe (1)

stevebetch (1807794) | about 4 years ago | (#32986230)

Awwww snap! Too bad that the dragon COMMERCIAL SPACECRAFT has already achieved orbit. There are some pretty sweet pics of the launch in the link below. http://www.spacex.com/F9-001.php [spacex.com]

Re:Dupe (2, Informative)

sznupi (719324) | about 4 years ago | (#32986336)

To be fair, that's basically a mockup; hardly counts.. Though the proper test vehicle should be in orbit this year.

Then there are two test spacecraft of Bigelow already orbiting for some time. And plenty commercial telecomm ones.

Re:Dupe (1)

Teancum (67324) | about 4 years ago | (#32994722)

It was a broilerplate that exhibited all of the aerodynamic characteristics that would be expected for the real thing. In terms of its launch into orbit, it can be said that the Dragon spacecraft met all of its objectives. Foremost, the #1 objective was not to get blown up before it got to orbit or get plunked into the ocean where it wasn't wanted. Nothing more than broilerplate was necessary to meet that objective.

The next flight is going to have something a bit more sophisticated that sounds like they are going to be testing the Draco thrusters and doing other more significant tests of the Dragon as a spacecraft. It still won't be ready for prime time in terms of delivering cargo to orbit, but it will be something more sophisticated.

As far as the first commercial spacecraft to get into orbit, that would be the Telstar [wikipedia.org] satellite that was put up by none other than AT&T back when it was the monster Ma Bell.... with a great deal of assistance and development work by the old time Bell Labs back when that meant something. The story of how AT&T got screwed out of the commercial market ought to be legendary, including how Ma Bell was explicitly excluded by law from launching any more satellites even if it was on their own dime.

Total BS (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32986716)

This has absolutely nothing to do with Apple.

Boeing Shows Off First Commercial Spacecraft (1)

RapmasterT (787426) | about 4 years ago | (#32986722)

I guess we define "shows off" differently where I come from.

I guess I'm old fashioned, but I don't recall ever seeing someone "show off" by showing poor quality mockups of something they never actually intend to make.

Am I the only one thats disturbed by... (3, Funny)

Quzak (1047922) | about 4 years ago | (#32986742)

Inflatable Spacecraft? If we cant take knives on a plane...just imagine what we cant take on those craft

Is it me? (1)

Ecuador (740021) | about 4 years ago | (#32987398)

Or does this make Soyuz look state-of-the-art?

I don't see the hype... (0)

TheVelvetFlamebait (986083) | about 4 years ago | (#32987432)

... about going into space. It seems like a colossal waste of money to go somewhere, frankly, not all that interesting. With terrestrial destinations, there are sights, sounds, tastes, etc. In space, there's one single sight, and maybe some bragging rights, but that's about it.

You could look at this as troll, or as an excuse for lively discussion. ;-)

Intriguing (1)

Insider007 (1861786) | about 4 years ago | (#32987972)

So it seems Boeing want in on space tourism? Great, now all i need is tens of millions of dollars and maybe i can get a seat! Guess i'l have to settle for some nasa canvas art [infusionart.co.uk] instead! :-P

7 people? (1)

jdb2 (800046) | about 4 years ago | (#32988000)

If that many people can be crammed into this capsule then I think some design "compromises" had to be made in order to save space.
One example that comes to mind is the space toilet -- it would really suck if you had to shit or urinate in your space suit on the way to the/a station.
Personally, I'm hoping something like the Kliper [wikipedia.org] design takes off. Horizontal lifting body designs lend themselves to more space plus the added advantage of not having to take as many Gs on atmospheric re-entry.

Anyway, here's [youtube.com] a somewhat tacky video detailing a hypothetical (CST)-100 mission.

jdb2

18 Million (3, Funny)

ThatsNotPudding (1045640) | about 4 years ago | (#32988074)

So it's made out of a special carbon fiber called Papier-mâché.

Re:18 Million (1)

tiqui (1024021) | about 4 years ago | (#32999344)

While your post was funny, it might interest you to know that there actually have been private aircraft built from a composite that used brown craft/shipping type paper as the fiber. I cannot recall the name of the stuff, but if you look hard enough for experimental composite aircraft construction techniques, you'll find it.

/. response is the more interesting item here (4, Insightful)

WindBourne (631190) | about 4 years ago | (#32988444)

When /. first started, this article would have had 100-300 responses. The same is true of any OS type article. Yet, now it is non-intellectual articles such as facebook, pot, and job's statements, that garner the big discussions. It looks like the techs have left the building.

Re:/. response is the more interesting item here (1)

BJ_Covert_Action (1499847) | about 4 years ago | (#32991394)

We have to be more careful about logging on and off because our bosses finally figured out what all those hits to slashdot.org meant on their server logs.

Re:/. response is the more interesting item here (0, Offtopic)

mcgrew (92797) | about 4 years ago | (#32993266)

...says the man who only got here five years ago...

Re:/. response is the more interesting item here (0, Offtopic)

WindBourne (631190) | about 4 years ago | (#32997206)

Actually, I was here in the early days. I did not create a login because I hated that groups were spamming. Basically, once I saw that /. was for real, then and only then did I create a login. And yes, it was a long time. I think I can even find several of my early AC postings from about early '98.

Re:/. response is the more interesting item here (1)

chichilalescu (1647065) | about 4 years ago | (#32993846)

I don't think you realize it, but you just proved that you're more interested in people stuff than science.
besides... citation needed.

If you want me to take one of these flights... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32988962)

I want one of the top seats.

Re:If you want me to take one of these flights... (1)

WindBourne (631190) | about 4 years ago | (#32990472)

Hmmm. WHich one is the top seat on that? You are on your back the entire time except in space. Once there, which way is top?

Commercial? (0, Troll)

Tokolosh (1256448) | about 4 years ago | (#32994368)

Giant aerospace company designs hardware for NASA - how is this news? How is this suddenly "commercial"?

Aerospace recycling project... (2, Interesting)

tiqui (1024021) | about 4 years ago | (#32999324)

Looks like they just dusted-off one of the old ACRV (Assured Crew Return Vehicle) designs for ISS from the 1990s. IIRC, Boeing proposed a slightly larger Apollo capsule (they got the Apollo IP from their acquisition of North American) with new docking port and mini service module as an ISS lifeboat. What's cheaper than a little napkin engineering followed by some drawings and a powerpoint? why, re-using some napkin engineering, updating a powerpoint and doing a new CG version of a drawing, of course!

move along

nothing new to see here

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