The seven-person capsule features Boeing's Sky Interior that is one of the new features on the 737. (Image courtesy NASA)

Boeing puts airplane feel into latest space capsule

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Building a spaceship and a commercial airplane apparently aren't all that different. That's why the next generation of astronauts might see a lot of familiar features as they head to the International Space Station.

Boeing is competing with two other companies to provide the replacement to the Space Shuttle, and should Boeing win the contract, NASA astronauts will see a lot of similarities between their space capsule and the plane they likely flew on to get to the launch site.

"We've partnered with Boeing Commercial Airplanes in providing really great innovative technology when it comes to the 'Boeing Edge,' the 'Boeing Look,' when you walk into a Boeing aircraft," CST-100 project engineer Tony Castilleja said. "We want to emulate that in this commercial space vehicle."

The seven-person capsule features Boeing's Sky Interior that is one of the new features on the 737, and the seats have been designed with 787 headrests and other comforts borrowed from Boeing's commercial airplane side of the company.

"When you walk into a 787 or 737, you see the Boeing Sky Interior, and what we've done is brought that talent down to Houston and modified it for the shape of a space capsule," Castilleja said.

The interior really has more of a commercial airplane feel, but it certainly isn't plush, though it is a lot more comfortable looking than the Russian capsule NASA has to book seats on today to get astronauts to the Space Station.

The CST-100 is going through astronaut testing this summer. Its first test flight is scheduled for 2016. Flights to the International Space Station are planned for 2017.

Chris Sullivan, KIRO Radio Reporter
Chris loves the rush of covering breaking news and works hard to try to make sense of it all while telling stories about real people in extraordinary circumstances.
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