Following a US$4.2 billion contract from NASA to complete the CST-100 manned transport spacecraft (as part of the Commercial Crew Transportation Capability (CCtCap) programme), Boeing has received its first official crew transportation flight order.
The flight is set to take place in the last quarter of 2017 and is likely to be the first commercial crew flight to the International Space Station, beating its SpaceX rival by a few months. While up to seven astronauts can be carried, it is not yet disclosed how many crew will be on this (four astronauts is a standard space station crew rotation).
At the end of its orbital stay the CST-100’s Apollo-style blunt ended capsule will make an Earth atmospheric re-entry, followed by either a parachute/rocket-braked landing or a water splashdown.
Before this operational commercial flight, two test missions will be flown in 2017: the first unmanned flight will be in early 2017 while a second flight with two crew (one from Boeing and one from NASA) will take place in July 2017.