Airstream builds Astrovan II for Boeing astronauts
Airstream has joined the commercial space race with a van built to carry astronauts to the launch pad for Boeing CST-100 Starliner missions. Based on an Airstream Atlas Touring Coach, the Astrovan II Starliner Transport Vehicle has been specially modified to carry passengers and crew from the suiting up area to the launch vehicle at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida.
Getting into space is a bit like flying coach. You may be able to get to your destination in a couple of hours at near-supersonic speeds, but getting to the plane can take longer than the trip. Astronauts looking forward to blasting into orbit and whizzing around the Earth once every 90 minutes must first cover the 9 mile journey to the launch pad, which isn't an easy walk in a spacesuit.
From Space Shuttle mission STS-9 in November 1983 to the last Shuttle flight in 2011, NASA used a modified 1983 Airstream Excella motor home, nicknamed "Astrovan," to transport astronauts from the Operations and Checkout Building out to the launchpad at Cape Canaveral. The drive took about 20 minutes with one stop to drop off an astronaut, who boarded an aircraft for a last-minute weather check.
The original Astrovan is now a museum piece at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center Visitor’s Complex, so Boeing commissioned a more up to date version for astronauts launching from American soil. Astrovan II can seat up to eight passengers in their spacesuits and Airstream says that, if there was a road available, it could drive to the International Space Station in 15,925 hours – not including rest stops.
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