Bolden Sees Starliner

Administrator Charles Bolden stands next to Boeing's CST-100 capsule at Langely Research Center. (Credit: NASA)
Administrator Charles Bolden stands next to Boeing’s CST-100 capsule at Langely Research Center. (Credit: NASA)

NASA Administrator Charles Bolden took a close look on Tuesday at the airbag system for Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia, before a contingency water landing test with a full-size spacecraft mock-up.

Although it’s designed to land on land, Boeing is testing the Starliner at Langley’s Hydro Impact Basin to evaluate its tendencies in case it has to land in the water in the event of, for example, an unlikely launch or ascent emergency that calls for the spacecraft to separate from its rocket and parachute itself and the astronauts inside to safety.

Starliner is being developed in partnership with NASA to carry up to four astronauts at a time to the International Space Station. An additional crew member will allow science time on the orbiting laboratory to double for NASA’s Journey to Mars and research that will benefit everyone on Earth.

Bolden visited Langley to deliver his annual “State of NASA” address during which he detailed aspects of the agency’s budget request.

  • DJN

    Maybe I missed it but how does Dragon Crew seat 7 and cost a whole bunch less than Starliner that seats 4. And how is that OK with the people spending our tax dollars?

  • Hug Doug

    The original commercial crew baseline requirements were for 7 seats. All of the commercial crew vehicles, including the CST-100 / Starliner, were initially designed with 7 seats. NASA’s requirements changed with the CCtCap awards, to 4 crew and some cargo.

    Here’s an image from 2011.

  • JamesG

    Because its not their money.

  • Larry J

    When I first saw that photo, it reminded me about how roughly half of the Apollo capsules turned upside down on splashdown. Of course, those airbags will quickly deflate but I wonder if the Starliner (CST-100) or Dragon 2 capsules will have this problem. The Dragon cargo capsules don’t but their center of gravity could be lower. As discussed in the linked article, the Apollo capsules had balloons near the top to help them flip upright. The Navy frogmen also attached a ring of inflatable bags around the capsule to make it more stable.

  • TimAndrews868

    “how does Dragon Crew seat 7… than Starliner that seats 4.”

    By taking out some seats and putting some cargo racks in their place, same as Crew Dragon will for Commercial Crew launches.

    “and cost a whole bunch less”

    Because SpaceX has a streamlined business model doing numerous things differently than Boeing, from iterative development vs. a waterfall approach, a vertical supply line (relying far more on in-house design/production or direct supplier contractors, as opposed to sub contracting large portions, with subs for those subs, etc.) and paying their engineers smaller salaries and working them longer hours with less middle-management in their operational structure.

  • ReSpaceAge

    I see a Capsule, but I don’t see a STARLINER in this picture.

  • JamesG

    You just don’t have your hyperbole glasses on.

  • ReSpaceAge

    Boeing’s Capsule uses air bags??

    You kidding me? Like my car 🙂

    Wow, they are really cutting edge here?

    When I was a kid Boeing promised a different future.

    What happened Fellows?

    This thing is costing the Taxpayer twice as much as Dragon 2? Really?

  • JamesG

    You’ll notice that a whole lot more people are getting off the B747…

  • ReSpaceAge

    At 10 years old First plane I ever flew on was an Eastern Boeing whisper Jet in 1965.

    We need something like that on top of a Falcon Heavy.

    One second stage Raptor engine with about half the fuselage filled with fuel, two jet engine’s for controlled runway landings, able to carry 50 to 100 people to orbit. These seven people capsules are not enough to start a space tourist economy.

  • ReSpaceAge

    A very cool ride in 1965