Boeing held the grand opening of its new Crew Space Transportation System or CST-100 manufacturing facility at the Kennedy Space Center last week. The new facility will eliminate the uncertainty and high cost of depending on Russian rockets to transport astronauts and supplies to the International Space Station (ISS). It will also introduce another player from the United States for ISS resupply missions in addition to SpaceX and Orbital Sciences.
The CST-100, now name the Starliner Spaceship, will be assembled inside a processing hangar that was once home to NASA’s space shuttles. The first test for the Starliner is expected in 2017. When Starliner is ready for flight it will be launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station aboard Atlas 5 rockets.
The Boeing contract for $4.2 billion calls for a Starliner test flight and six missions to the ISS. SpaceX’s original contract for 12 cargo missions aboard its Dragon spacecraft had a value of $1.6 billion; the contract was extended in 2015 for an additional 3 resupply missions bringing the total contract to $2.4 billion.
It is expected Boeing, SpaceX and Orbital Sciences will continue to compete for contracts through the end of the useful life of ISS, possibly as late as 2024.
The following video shows the grand opening of the Boeing CST-100 Commercial Crew Processing Facility: