In a landing system test, Boeing just dropped its new space capsule from 11,000 feet above the Nevada desert, watching the Apollo-esque craft descend under three massive parachutes. The CST-100 (which really needs a catchier name) is now one step closer to flying to the International Space Station or a future space hotel.
The beautiful final landing we watched yesterday was a last in more ways than one — with the exception of a couple tourist space planes, next-generation spacecraft will not land on runways. Instead they’ll splash down in the ocean a la Apollo, Mercury and Gemini.
NASA just completed building a million-gallon pool to test these splashes, and managers have been dunking a test model of the space agency’s next crew vehicle.
Today NASA announced a plan that was largely expected but is now official: Orion, the scrapped then not-scrapped crew module from the definitely scrapped Constellation Program, will serve as the backbone of a new NASA crew module slated to go into service by 2016. Lockheed Martin, which never stopped working on its Orion capsule, will continue developing the Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle (MPCV), the next-gen rocket-launched capsule that will carry a crew of four on missions lasting up to three weeks.
Five amazing, clean technologies that will set us free, in this month's energy-focused issue. Also: how to build a better bomb detector, the robotic toys that are raising your children, a human catapult, the world's smallest arcade, and much more.