The Boeing/Bigelow CST-100 test article being prepared for its drop test from a helicopter. Photo: Boeing
Before you go to space, you have to drop from a helicopter. At least that’s the method Boeing is using to test its new Crew Space Transportation spacecraft over the Nevada desert this week. The aerospace giant is building the capsule as part of the competition to provide astronaut transportation to orbit for NASA. Boeing’s second drop took place yesterday and tested the landing system of the CST-100 including parachute deployment and airbags.
The capsule is rough prototype representing the shape and weight of what will eventually be a seven seat spacecraft designed to take people to the International Space Station. Like two of the other companies competing for the Commercial Crew Development (CCDev) funding from NASA, Boeing is opting for a traditional capsule design which will be perched on top of a rocket. The fourth company in the second phase of the CCDev program, Sierra Nevada Corporation, is designing a lifting body spacecraft that would glide to a landing similar to the space shuttle.