Boeing has been making things that fly – and more recently rocket into space – since 1917. So far, NASA has spent $132 million on the aerospace giant's effort to design a crew capsule that could ferry up to seven people to and from the space station or other destinations in low-Earth orbit.
Much like the Apollo capsule, Boeing's CST-100 crew capsule is designed to land in water or on land – using airbags for flotation or to cushion the impact of a terrestrial touchdown. The craft is undergoing tests – most recently drop tests of its parachute system over a dry lake bed near Alamo, Nev., north of Las Vegas.
Ultimately the capsule would sit atop an Atlas V rocket – an updated version of the workhorse used for the last four Mercury missions in the early 1960s. Designers also envision it mating with other current or future expendable rockets.