NASA and its industrial astronaut program companions are laser-focused on getting crew into area. However to get to area you first should get to the rocket, and that’s the place the Airstream Astrovan II is available in. This car, which is the sequel to the unique Astrovan that introduced America’s astronauts to the launch pad within the days of the Shuttle Program, options fashionable updates, and is heading straight from being on show on the Worldwide Astronautical Congress in Washington to Cape Canaveral to prepare for Boeing’s first CST-100 Starliner crew launch subsequent yr.
I received an opportunity to check out the Astrovan II in particular person, however the Airstream employees on web site had cordoned off the door to the van. Once I requested if I might go in, they defined it was off limits to attendees — for good cause, as that is actually the van that can be utilized by NASA’s industrial crew astronauts throughout the first launches subsequent yr.
The unique Astrovan had that signature Airstream “silver bullet” look, as you may see within the picture under. The up to date model seems to be extra like your commonplace industrial shuttle van — however what it lacks in exterior styling, it makes up for in inside creature comforts.
The skin of the Astrovan II has a full-wrap, which reveals off Boeing’s CST-100 Starline capsule, the spacecraft that Boeing is growing for NASA as a part of its industrial crew program (together with second provider SpaceX, which is concurrently readying its Crew Dragon capsule for service).
The Astrovan II holds as much as eight passengers (compete with flight fits) and is a customized model of the Airstream Atlas Touring Coach that was hand-built in Jackson Heart, Ohio. As you may see, they opted for a minimalist, sci-fi chrome steel look on the within, with giant, comfy-looking chairs that ought to present a easy journey earlier than the significantly rockier one the crew will expertise strapped to an enormous, highly effective rocket en path to the Worldwide House Station.