Boeing to build spacecraft in former shuttle hangar
Oct 31, 2011, 21:23 GMT
Washington - Aerospace giant Boeing plans to build its private space ship at the Kennedy Space Centre in Florida, using a hangar long used to prepare NASA's space shuttle for flight.
The company signed a 15-year contract Monday for the use of the facility to build and test its CST-100 commercial spacecraft.
After retiring the ageing shuttle fleet earlier this year, NASA is turning to private companies to provide transportation to low-Earth orbit for astronauts and crew on their way to the International Space Station. Until those spacecraft get up and running, NASA is dependant on Russian Soyuz craft to bring astronauts aloft.
Under the deal, the US space agency will grant use of the building to Space Florida, a state aerospace development agency, that will in turn lease it to Boeing. The agreement should create 550 jobs, a major concern for the area following massive lay-offs due to the shuttle retirement.
The reusable spacecraft will be designed to carry up to seven astronauts into space and will be carried aloft by an Atlas V rocket, Boeing said. The first test flights are scheduled for 2015.
Boeing is one of several companies vying to create commercial spacecraft under contracts with NASA.