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CST-100 (crop).jpg
Rendering of the CST-100
Manufacturer Boeing
Country of origin United States
Operator Boeing
Bigelow Aerospace
Applications Crew Transfer Vehicle
Design life
  • 60 hours (free flight)[2]
  • 210 days (docked)[2][3]
Launch mass Appx 10 tons[clarification needed][4]
  • Diameter (capsule max): 4.56 m (15.0 ft)[1]
  • Length (CM+SM): 5.03 m (16.5 ft)[1]
Orbit regimes Low Earth
Status In development

The CST-100 (Crew Space Transportation) crew capsule is a spacecraft design proposed by Boeing in collaboration with Bigelow Aerospace as their entry for NASA's Commercial Crew Development (CCDev) program. Its primary mission would be to transport crew to the International Space Station,[5] and to private space stations such as the proposed Bigelow Aerospace Commercial Space Station.[6]

Outwardly it would look much like the Orion, a spacecraft being built for NASA by Lockheed Martin.[7] The 4.56-metre (15.0 ft) diameter[1] capsule is slightly larger than the Apollo command module and smaller than the Orion capsule.[8] The CST-100 would be able to support larger crews of up to seven people[9] as the result of greater habitable interior volume and the reduced weight of equipment needed to support an exclusively low-Earth-orbit configuration.[citation needed] It is designed to be able to remain on-orbit for up to seven months and for reusability for up to ten missions.[9]

In the first phase of its CCDev program NASA awarded Boeing $18 million for preliminary development of the spacecraft.[10] In the second phase Boeing was awarded $93 million for further development.[11] On August 3, 2012, NASA announced the award of $460 million to Boeing to continue work on the CST-100 under the Commercial Crew Integrated Capability (CCiCap) Program.[12]

The CST-100 would be compatible with multiple launch vehicles, including the Atlas V, Delta IV, and Falcon 9.[9][13] The initial launch vehicle would be the Atlas V.[14]


Test of the CST-100 capsule at Delamar Dry Lake, Nevada, 2012. Note airbags.
CST-100 pressure vessel at the former Orbiter Processing Facility-3 in October 2011
Test firing of the RS-88 in December 2003

The initial Boeing press releases[when?] did not state a name for the CST-100. The name CST-100 was first revealed to the public by Bigelow Aerospace CEO Robert Bigelow, who referred to the capsule as the CST-100 in June 2010.[15] The letters CST stand for Crew Space Transportation[16] and the number 100 in the name stands for 100 km, the height of the Kármán line which defines the boundary of space.[17][18]

Receiving the full fixed-price payments for the CCDev Phase 1 Space Act Agreement required a set of specific milestones to be met during 2010:[19][dated info]

  • trade study and down-select between pusher-type and tractor-style LAS (Launch Abort System)
  • 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
  • Autonomous Rendezvous and Docking (AR&D) hardware/software demonstration
  • Crew Module Mockup demonstration.

As of July 2010, Boeing stated that the capsule could be operational in 2015 with sufficient near-term approvals and funding, but also indicated they would proceed with development of the CST-100 only if NASA implemented the commercial crew transport initiative that was announced by the Obama administration in its FY11 budget request. Boeing executive Roger Krone stated that NASA investment would allow Boeing to close the business case, while this would be very difficult without NASA. In addition a second destination besides the ISS would be needed to close the business case and Krone said that cooperation with Bigelow was crucial for this.[8]

Boeing was awarded a $92.3M contract by NASA in April 2011 to continue to develop the CST-100 under CCDev phase 2.[20] On August 3, 2012, NASA announced the award of $460 million to Boeing to continue work on the CST-100 under the Commercial Crew Integrated Capability (CCiCap) Program.[12][dated info]

Design heritage[edit]

The design draws upon Boeing's experience with NASA's Apollo, Space Shuttle and ISS programs as well as the Orbital Express project sponsored by the Department of Defense.[8] The CST-100 has no Orion heritage, but it is sometimes confused with the earlier and similar Orion-derived Orion Lite proposal that Bigelow was reportedly working on with technical assistance from Lockheed Martin.[21] It will use the NASA Docking System for docking and use the Boeing Lightweight Ablator (BLA) for its heatshield.[22][23][24] For its launch escape system it will use the RS-88 (Bantam) engine.[25]


A variety of validation tests are underway on the test article.

In September 2011, Boeing announced the completion of a set of ground drop tests to validate the design of the air bag cushioning system. The air bags are located underneath the heat shield of the CST-100, which is designed to be separated from the capsule while under parachute descent at about 5,000 feet (1,500 m) altitude. The air bags are deployed by filling with a mixture of compressed Nitrogen and Oxygen gas, not with the pyro-explosive mixture sometimes used in automotive air bags. The tests were carried out in the Mojave Desert of southeast California, at ground speeds between 10 and 30 miles per hour (16 and 48 km/h) in order to simulate cross wind conditions at the time of landing. Bigelow Aerospace built the mobile test rig and conducted the tests.[16]

In April 2012, Boeing dropped a mock-up of its CST-100 commercial crew capsule over the Nevada desert at the Delamar Dry Lake near Alamo, Nevada, successfully testing the craft's three main landing parachutes from 11,000 feet (3,400 m).[26]

On August 19, 2013 (National Aviation Day), Boeing announced that two NASA astronauts for the first time evaluated communications, ergonomics and crew-interface aspects of the CST-100, showing how future astronauts will operate in the spacecraft as it transports them to the International Space Station and other low Earth orbit destinations.[27]

Manufacturing in OPF-3[edit]

On October 31, 2011, NASA announced that through a partnership with Space Florida, the Orbiter Processing Facility-3 at Kennedy Space Center would be leased to Boeing for manufacture and test of CST-100 spacecraft.[28]

Technology partners[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Burghardt, Mike (August 2011). "Boeing CST-100: Commercial Crew Transportation System". Boeing. Retrieved May 8, 2014. 
  2. ^ a b Reiley, Keith; Burghardt, Michael; Wood, Michael; Ingham, Jay; Lembeck, Michael (2011). "Design Considerations for a Commercial Crew Transportation System". AIAA SPACE 2011 Conference & Exposition. Long Beach, California. September 27–29, 2011. doi:10.2514/6.2011-7101. 
  3. ^ Carreau, Mark (July 24, 2013). "Boeing Refines CST-100 Commercial Crew Capsule Approach". Aviation Week. Retrieved May 8, 2014. 
  4. ^ Darling, David (August 12, 2013). "A Look Inside the CST-100". AmericaSpace. Retrieved May 8, 2014. 
  5. ^ Memi, Edmund G.; Morgan, Adam K. (September 23, 2009). "Boeing Submits Proposal for NASA Commercial Crew Transport System" (Press release). Boeing. 
  6. ^ "Orbital Complex Construction". Bigelow Aerospace. Retrieved July 15, 2010. 
  7. ^ Chow, Denise (June 25, 2010). "New Boeing Spaceship Targets Commercial Missions". Space.com. 
  8. ^ a b c Clark, Stephen (July 21, 2010). "Boeing space capsule could be operational by 2015". Spaceflight Now. Retrieved September 18, 2011. 
  9. ^ a b c "Commercial Human Spaceflight Plan Unveiled". Aviation Week. July 20, 2010. Retrieved September 16, 2010. 
  10. ^ Memi, Edmund G.; Gold, Michael N. (February 2, 2010). "NASA Selects Boeing for American Recovery and Reinvestment Act Award to Study Crew Capsule-based Design" (Press release). Boeing. 
  11. ^ Morring, Frank, Jr. (April 25, 2011). "Five Vehicles Vie For Future Of U.S. Human Spaceflight". Aviation Week. Archived from the original on May 8, 2014. "the CCDev-2 awards, ... went to Blue Origin, Boeing, Sierra Nevada Corp. and Space Exploration Technologies Inc. (SpaceX)." 
  12. ^ a b "Boeing, SpaceX and Sierra Nevada Win CCiCAP Awards". Spacenews.com. August 3, 2012. 
  13. ^ Lindenmoyer, Alan (2010). "Commercial Crew and Cargo Program". 13th Annual FAA Commercial Space Transportation Conference. Arlington, Virginia. February 10–11, 2010. Archived from the original on March 5, 2010. 
  14. ^ Memi, Edmund G.; Rye, Jessica F. (August 4, 2011). "Boeing Selects Atlas V Rocket for Initial Commercial Crew Launches" (Press release). Boeing. Retrieved October 29, 2011. 
  15. ^ Gedmark, John; Gold, Mike (June 16, 2010). "Bigelow Aerospace Joins the Commercial Spaceflight Federation" (Press release). Commercial Spaceflight Federation. 
  16. ^ a b Memi, Edmund G. (September 12, 2011). "Space capsule tests aim to ensure safe landings". Boeing. Retrieved September 18, 2011. 
  17. ^ Memi, Edmund G.; Morgan, Adam K. (July 19, 2010). "Boeing CST-100 Spacecraft to Provide Commercial Crew Transportation Services" (Press release). Boeing. 
  18. ^ Chow, Denise (July 19, 2010). "New Spaceship Could Fly People to Private Space Stations". Space.com. 
  19. ^ "Space Act Agreement Between National Aeronautics and Space Administration and The Boeing Company for Commercial Crew Development (CCDev)". NASA.gov. February 2010. 
  20. ^ Dean, James (April 18, 2011). "NASA awards $270 million for commercial crew efforts". Florida Today. The Flame Trench. Archived from the original on April 19, 2011. 
  21. ^ Klamper, Amy (August 14, 2009). "Company pitches 'lite' spaceship to NASA". NBC News. Retrieved September 7, 2009. 
  22. ^ Grondin, Yves-A. (August 5, 2013). "NASA Outlines its Plans for Commercial Crew Certification". NASA Spaceflight. 
  23. ^ "Commercial Space Flight Panel". YouTube.com (SpaceUp Houston). 2011. 
  24. ^ Messier, Doug (March 23, 2011). "Update on Boeing CST-100 Crew Program". Parabolic Arc. 
  25. ^ "Test of Rocketdyne abort motor for Boeing crew capsule". YouTube.com. Retrieved November 24, 2011. 
  26. ^ Clark, Stephen (April 3, 2012). "Parachutes for Boeing crew capsule tested over Nevada". Spaceflight Now. Retrieved April 3, 2012. 
  27. ^ "Boeing Space Capsule One Step Closer to Orbit". NYSE Big Stage. August 19, 2013. 
  28. ^ Weaver, David; Curie, Michael; Philman, Amber; Lange, Tina; Korn, Paula (October 31, 2011). "NASA Signs Agreement with Space Florida to Reuse Kennedy Facilities" (Press release). NASA. 

External links[edit]