Airstream builds Astrovan II for Boeing CST-100 astronaut transport

“Everything was better in the old days” can be an appealing sentiment, particularly in these trying times. It’s not true, of course—everything wasn’t better back in the day, and human memory is excellent at ignoring all the horrible, terrible bits and just hanging on to the happy ones. But that doesn’t mean all progress is necessarily great, either. Exihibit A: Astrovan II, the new vehicle meant to transport NASA’s astronauts to the launchpad of the still-not-ready CST-100 Starliner crewed capsule.

In the old days, when NASA still had its own crew-rated launch capability, those crews made the nine-mile journey to the launchpad in style. From 1984 until the end of the Space Shuttle program, that meant getting into a modified Airstream Excella RV, dubbed the Astrovan. Astronauts and Airstream have a fair amount of history—one of the company’s distinctive shiny aluminum trailers was also used as the Mobile Quarantine Facility for the Apollo program. So when Boeing wanted a new transport for forthcoming NASA missions using the CST-100, it too turned to the Ohio-based manufacturer.

The result is Astrovan II, built on a modified Airstream Atlas Touring Coach, which itself begins life as a Mercedes-Benz Sprinter van chassis. “The original Astrovan played an important role in America’s Space Shuttle era. Many will remember seeing that familiar silver bullet exterior heading out to the launchpad at Kennedy Space Center. We’re excited for Astrovan II to continue Airstream’s part in helping put Americans into orbit,” said Bob Wheeler, CEO and president of Airstream.

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Source: Ars Technica

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