First look: NASA astronauts test out U.S. spacecraft design


by staff

Posted on July 22, 2013 at 7:16 PM

Updated Monday, Jul 22 at 7:21 PM

HOUSTON—There is a new space race on! Three American companies trying to be the next the take US Astronauts to space from U.S. soil in a US spacecraft.

It’s been a while since we have seen an American astronaut in an American spacecraft, even if it is just for testing.

“Feels good in there. It is good to get in a new vehicle,” said Serita Aunon, one of the new class of NASA Astronauts.

The CST-100 is Boeing’s entry into the new space race, commercial companies head-to-head for just one contract to fly.

Former NASA Astronaut Chris Ferguson is now heading up the Boeing Company’s effort.

“We have a strategy to win and I would like to think next summer we will come out ahead,” he said.

It is called the CST-100,  a capsule that will ride on top of any number of rockets but first a Atlas-5.

Boeing is competing with Space X and Orbital Sciences to be the one returning Americans to space.

“Two years? It is not on the front page anymore, but that does not mean that we do not have people hard at work doing things,” Ferguson said.

Like any spacecraft just getting in can be an exercise and it is a tight fit, but bigger than the current ride to the International Space Station.

The Russian Soyuz can only hold three flyers, not comfortably, and Boeing says the CST-100 could hold much more.

Boeing says the idea will be room for five astronauts and cargo in the CST-100 which would be able to fly on top of a number of different types of rockets.

The astronauts getting in first are positive.

“The fact that it will be an American vehicle and that it will be launching from American soil. That is what I like about it,” he said.

So who has the edge? Serita Aunon isn’t sure.

“Hard to compare. This is the first one I have been in,” he said.

The Astronaut corps is starting from scratch too.