Boeing to Offer Commercial Flights to Space

The aerospace company Boeing is developing a crew transportation vehicle and today announced an agreement with the space marketing company Space Adventures to offer commercial passenger seats on the Boeing Crew Space Transportation-100 (CST-100) spacecraft, which is being built to with the capability to fly to the International Space Station as well as other future low Earth orbit private space stations. The spacecraft will be able to carry seven people, and is being designed to fly on multiple launch vehicles. It is expected to be operational by 2015.

Boeing is developing the CST-100 spacecraft under NASA’s Commercial Crew Development Space Act Agreement.

“By combining our talents, we can better offer safe, affordable transportation to commercial spaceflight customers,” said Brewster Shaw, vice president and general manager of Boeing’s Space Exploration division. “To date, all commercial flights for private spaceflight participants to the ISS have been contracted by Space Adventures. If NASA and the international partners continue to accommodate commercial spaceflight participants on ISS, this agreement will be in concert with the NASA administrator’s stated intent to promote space commerce in low Earth orbit.”

Boeing sees the potential customers as private individuals, companies, non-governmental organizations, and U.S. federal agencies other than NASA. Boeing and Space Adventures have not yet set a price per seat, but will do so after full-scale development is under way.

Source: Boeing

21 Replies to “Boeing to Offer Commercial Flights to Space”

  1. How about an international lottery for tickets to ride? Would THAT be a money maker? Or how about free rides paid for by a corporate sponsor(s) for advertising rights? THEN maybe even I might get a chance to go? Sheesh… $$$$$

  2. Oh great!!! Now Al Quaida will have a way to smuggle a bomb aboard the International Space Station and blow it out of the heavens!

  3. Hey! Thats the video i uploaded on my Youtube channel! Hey! Thats my youtube channel! =D I’m mobius1234! Its an honor!!

  4. I must confess I look at the whole space tourism business with a combination of a laugh and a sigh. Seriously folks, if there is any prospect for a long term presence for humanity in space it is going to start by making the bottom line run black. In other words it will have some positive feedback on the markets. Building hotels in orbit for the giga-wealthy is not going to foot the bill. This is basically an orbiting Versailles palace. There is one arena of space applications which has a business and financial output, and it is with communications. The commodity exchanged is mass-less and is beamed around. If there is a next step it will be with another mass-less commodity — energy.

    I think that solar power satellites are the only plausible next large step. Graphene solar panels may reduce the mass of solar power satellites so they may be economically placed in geosynchronous orbit. This will amount to hoisting the power grid into orbit, and as the infrastructure grows it will require maintenance by astronauts. In this way it might provide the next baby step outwards. Putting lunar bases so a few astronauts can hunker down under a flag, or putting up hotels and dachas for the most extremely wealthy will lead to nowhere!


  5. LBC, much as agree on the bottom line, I don’t see how your analysis comes up with the already ongoing space tourism as “red”. It pays its costs within the existing infrastructure, so it is a sound market.

    If and when NASA, ESA et cetera support of the infrastructure will disappear is another question entirely. For example, here in Sweden we still pay for our railroads (repair & extension) by – gasp – taxes, while after ~ a century the traffic itself was let go commercial. Still with the major player a state owned corporation, mind you.

    I see the burgeoning space transport & tourism in that historical light. It is business as usual so far IMO, as the exception of speedy commercialization can be tentatively explained by a more experienced and fast paced society. (Space-X for example rides on already existing FAA regulation et cetera to have their transports approved. Though I gather that there is still some ways to go to as regards market adaptation there.)

  6. This is promising news. The real shame of it is that this (and the recent news about possibly going to the asteroids) is not an archived story from about 1986 or so.

  7. Torbjorn Larsson OM: I would compare this to two developments that started around the same time. One was the development of commercial aircraft and the other the staring of Las Vegas. Both involved a lot of money, but one was far more a driver of the modern economy and the other derivative. The same thing holds with regards to the comparison with Versailles. Not long after Versailles was built, or in fact stormed by the revolutionary mob, another development took place — the Newcomb-Watt steam engine. Now Versailles at the time was a big money project, where the nobility spent some of their wealth that employed artisans and the like. Yet the British went more the way of the steam engine and the industrial revolution, which was in the end a driver of the future economy. Using space to produce energy is more of a positive future.

    The problem is that there is an idea about the equivalency of all markets, and indeed all human activities. This is something Milty Friedman came up with, and in part won a Nobel Prize for. It is one of the stupidest ideas ever to come out of academia. The idea that everything can be reduced to the same market fundamentals is utterly spurious.


  8. There will be a private Taurus Capsule, private Dragon Capsule and a private Boeing Capsule. Surely the Lock-Mart Orion-Lite Capsule is the least needed machine in the history of Government Space (aka NASA). Where is Ken Kramer when you need a good laugh?

  9. Even if we are to think according to the idea that moving into space has analogues with the ocean voyages and colonization of the 16-17th centuries, it must be remembered that the corporations which did these were chartered by the crown or the King of the realm. The idea this happened by pure entrepreneurial activity is pure fantasy. The same holds here. The notion that we can turn manned space flight over to private companies is little more than a way to canceling out these programs without the government actually declaring so. Compare it to a grand garage sale, everything is sold off on the cheap, where the sellers move out of Dodge (get out of the space business), and the buyers see what they can spin up with the stuff they bought.

    Yeah, the idea that companies A, B, C, and D are going to get their capsules together for a few tens of millions of dollars is crazy. Even if you do take a flight on one, don’t look too close for the duct tape will show too much.


  10. @LBC

    I agree with you completely. Corporations are motivated by profit, and little else. I can only imagine the disasters inherent in corporate run space flight. Safety is the least of their concerns. BP, anyone?

  11. A part of this comes from the strange age we are in, which is actually pretty fragmented, but where there is this idolization of the market place. Realistically history shows there has always been partnerships between government and companies with these types of programs. Remember, Massachusetts comes from the Massachusetts Bay Colonies as a joint stock company chartered by King James.


  12. The 16-17th century analogies are a bit of a stretch. Back then, the crown had a near monopoly on wealth and knowledge and powers of life and death over dissenters.
    There is a more recent analogy with early 20th century aircraft makers Vought, Sikorsky, Grumman, Martin, Douglas, Northrop, De Havilland, Avro, Hawker, Handley-Page and other start-ups etc. Though boosted by government contracts for air-mail and reconnaissance aircraft etc., the government merely specified requirements and stood out of the way while private industry got on with competing in how best meet production goals and developing economic ways of doing so for self preservation. What you didn’t see was a government branded aircraft manufacturer.
    Today, aerospace engineers Burt Rutan of Virgin Galactic and Elon Musk of SpaceX etc. have access to private capital and are bringing their own ingenious designs to market (adventure tourism and satellite launches). The government has simply added to this market by contracting with oversight and a little seed capital some ISS freight runs in 2 years and crew in 5 years which would otherwise be serviced via Soyuz and Progress vehicles. Enter Orbital Science Corp and Boeing, even better. No big deal and certainly not the end of manned space flight as some have stated.
    If however, the government ever stops being involved in science instruments such as Chandra, Kepler or JWST etc then that does spell an end of sorts. There will never be enough return on investment for private industry to take up an interest in leading those projects.

  13. There will be a private Taurus Capsule, private Dragon Capsule and a private Boeing Capsule.

    Hold your horses. There is a study on a Taurus capsule, there will be an unmanned as of yet Dragon capsule, and there is an intent to build a manned CST-100 capsule.

  14. Lawrence, and now we disagree again:

    Even if we are to think according to the idea that moving into space has analogues with the ocean voyages and colonization of the 16-17th centuries

    As TerryG says, a bit of a stretch here.

    I think it is equivalent, not analogous, to what happened with roads, railways, electricity, airplanes, radio, television and the internet. Regulated competition for long range transport on a shared infrastructure, as we can’t afford duplicated efforts for reasons of space (or other) requirements.

    The notion that we can turn manned space flight over to private companies is little more than a way to canceling out these programs without the government actually declaring so.

    Not in the european experience, where this happened successfully a number of times (railways, electricity, airplanes, radio, television), nor, I believe, in the US experience (internet).

    don’t look too close for the duct tape will show too much.

    Now you are making it up as you go, aren’t you? The market is thoroughly regulated. too much perhaps: look at the Space-X experience to fulfill all the safety requirements for unmanned flight and now ISS docking.

  15. I can only imagine the disasters inherent in corporate run space flight. Safety is the least of their concerns.

    On the contrary, we should expect companies on a safety sensitive market to put safety first. And that is indeed what for example Space-X claims and seems (shown tests) to do. The simplest pathway is to assume that they are doing what they claim. (While recognizing what they say is a basic blanket statement that has its own ROI.)

    On the other side of the coin, to imply that safety is their least concern is equivalent to conspiracy theories. Those are, by intended construction, always the least likely and less testable pathways.

    BP, anyone?

    Highly OT, but this is a ridiculous claim so I react anyway.

    Do you know how many safety measures BP and contractors had in place, and what they had to ignore or what failed in order for the Gulf of Mexico accident to happen? It was precisely this non-SOP that was required, as in so many other cases of preventable accidents. (Chernobyl is another famous example.)

  16. The major departure with the 16-17th century voyages and colonization is that back then the purpose was to establish trade with people already living “out there.” As for chartered corporations, the whole business of defense contracting is somewhat analogous. The parallels are never exact.

    Of the private space ventures right now the SpaceX seems the most reasonable. Virgin Galactic and the spaceship 1 or now 2 program and this spaceport is to my mind frankly silly. It amounts to a space amusement park ride for millionaires.


  17. Not to get off topic but, did anyone notice the approach of the spacecraft in the animation?
    Seems to me that firing retros on that approach might tend to disrupt the orbital mechanics of Bigelow’s balloon.

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