Boeing’s Starliner has been selected as one of two US spacecraft to transport humans to and from the International Space Station (ISS). The vehicle will usher in a new era of privatized “taxi services” operating just above the Earth’s surface. After the space shuttle was retired in 2011, NASA became reliant on Russia to send astronauts to the ISS. Meanwhile, NASA focused on the project’s transfer to American companies. NASA chose Boeing and SpaceX to build new spacecraft and procure seats for the crew once they began flying.

Boeing’s vehicle travels to the International Space Station and docks without the need for astronaut help. It has also been designed to be more secure. Starliner, unlike the space shuttle, has an emergency escape system that may transfer the crew away from the rocket in the case of a launch emergency.

“From launch to shortly before re-entry, the vehicle is made up of two main components that are connected:
•A crew module is a spacecraft that carries humans on board
•A service module provides power and propulsion
Moreover, each NASA mission will carry four to five passengers, with seats switched for additional cargo storage. Boeing has the option of selling the fifth seat to a space tourist or transporting a foreign astronaut if it becomes available.”