NASA awarded Boeing $4.2 billion Tuesday to build and fly the United States' next passenger spacecraft.
“Boeing has been part of every American human space flight program, and we’re honored that NASA has chosen us to continue that legacy,” said John Elbon, Boeing vice president and general manager, space exploration. “The CST-100 offers NASA the most cost-effective, safe, innovative and proven successor to the Space Shuttle.”
Boeing built the spacecraft for NASA, but it hopes to take commercial passengers and other governments to space one day. Already, Bigelow Aerospace and Space Adventures have begun working with Boeing to advance space tourism.
Boeing recently completed the critical design review (CDR) and Phase Two Spacecraft Safety Review of its Crew Space Transportation (CST)-100 spacecraft, becoming the only competitor for NASA’s Commercial Crew program to pass a CDR as well as complete all CCiCap milestones on time and on budget.
Looking to the future, Brandon Setayesh, an engineer on the CST-100 program, said that he envisions spaceflight being as common as air travel is today.
“It’s very common to get a flight to go to another city, to go to another country within one day, within a few hours,” said Setayesh. “And so we plan to do that with commercial space travel.”
Boeing will soon begin production of the spacecraft in Florida, and the capsule will receive its first passengers in 2017.
Check out the video above to hear about what’s next for the program.