SpaceX, Boeing win $900 million to develop spacecraft for human space flight

NASA has awarded Boeing (not to be confused with "Boing Boing," you guys), SpaceX, and a Colorado-based systems integration firm more than a billion in contracts to develop spacecraft capable of carrying astronauts. The Chicago-based aerospace giant Boeing gets $460 million. Elon Musk's space transportation startup SpaceX, based in Hawthorne, CA, gets $440 million. And Sierra Nevada Corp. in Colorado gets $212.5 milion. NASA's press release is here.

Above: NASA Astronaut Rex Walheim stands inside the Dragon Crew Engineering Model at SpaceX headquarters, during a day-long review of the Dragon crew vehicle layout. (Photo: SpaceX)



  1. A space capsule designed by BoingBoing would be awesome. For one thing, the interior would be all polished wood and brass, with wheels and levers and gears (except for the parts that were made out of artfully-folded paper). For another, the design would be available free online, so anyone with a 3D printer and basic soldering skills could build their own. The exterior would be laser-etched with images by Amy Crehore, and it would be powered by kittens and unicorn poop.

    I’m not sure I’d want to fly in it, though.

    1. I would, because I’m confident that the most extreme assholes would get ejected from the capsule, due to the superb moderation present at all times.  Plus, all the fresh outrage.

  2. Oh man, that $200m to Sierra Nevada is gonna buy a lot of beer.

    (Also, that adds up to more like $1.1bn.)

  3. Ugh – Sad to see Boeing considered necessary and included in this with a sizable chunk of the money.

  4. Almost as great as the news that SpaceX got funded is that Alliant TechSystems (ATK) was passed over. Their proposed system–clad in red, white, and blue in company imagery–used a modified solid rocket death-pencil^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^Hbooster for the first stage.

    Silly ATK, solid rockets are for fireworks, not launch systems!

    1. Aren’t solid rocket boosters the same thing that Space Ship One used for its initial stages after White Knight got it to sufficient altitude?

      1.  Not quite. SS1 used a hybrid motor, which has a solid fuel grain but liquid oxidizer. You spray oxygen onto the grain to keep it lit. It’s completely throttleable and can can be shut down if a problem is detected.

    1. Boeing’s space craft, the CST-100, will be built in a converted shuttle Orbiter Processing Facility, OPF-3, in Florida; the rocket that launches it will be manufactured in Decatur, Alabama, with upper stages built in San Diego, California and payload fairings built in Harlingen, Texas, by United Launch Alliance (ULA), whose  headquarters are  in Denver, Colorado.

      ULA is a joint venture between Lockheed-Martin, headquartered in Bethesda, Maryland, and Boeing, headquartered in… yes, Chicago.

      So I can see why Seattleites would be sighing. :-)

  5. “…capable of carrying astronauts,” WHERE?  If this is just another version of the Vomit Comit, training them to cope with zero-G, who needs it?  Can it reach the ISS?  The Hubble?  High Orbit?  Can it reach Luna?  Specifics, please.

    1. Well, considering that SpaceX’s contribution is probably going to be a human-rated version of the Dragon that recently launched, docked with the ISS, delivered cargo, and returned safely to Earth, I would imagine that it will almost certainly reach the ISS (as NASA no longer operates the shuttles, and is probably tired of paying Russia for rides).  Beyond that, I imagine the range is limited more by the type of boosters and the amount of fuel loaded than anything else.  I don’t think a mission to the moon would be the least bit unlikely either.

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