American astronauts have depended on Russia to send crews to the International Space Station since the Space Shuttle was retired in 2011. NASA hopes to usher in a new golden age of space exploration with commercial flight, starting with Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner.
The air travel company just released a teaser for what’s set to be the first commercial starliner launched from U.S. soil. The CST-100 (Crew Space Transportation) will be designed to hold four crew members plus cargo and will be assembled at the Kennedy Space Center. NASA is also collaborating with Elon Musk’s company SpaceX to modify their Dragon cargo ship for manned flights. Dragon made history in 2012 when it became the first commercial ship to deliver cargo to the ISS and successfully return cargo to earth.
The CST-100 Starliner’s first test flight is scheduled for 2017, with Dragon’s first manned test flight predicted to launch in two to three years. Boeing claims their effort will allow research on the ISS to double, which could in turn bring astronauts that much closer to setting foot on Mars. Check out the teaser above for a virtual look inside the starliner.