Boeing officially opened its Commercial Crew and Cargo Processing Facility at the Kennedy Space Center today in a televised event which culminated in the name reveal for the CST-100 spacecraft which will be the focus of operations. The name for the partially reusable spacecraft which will transport astronauts to ISS as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program is Starliner, a nod to the 99 year old company’s ambitions for the next century, and symbolic reference to both the 307 Stratoliner, the first commercial aircraft with a pressurized cabin, and the Dreamliner aircraft on which the spacecraft’s interior layout was patterned. (Any relationship to the 1960 Ford Starliner is presumably unintentional.)
Following a 2011 agreement, Boeing took over NASA’s Orbiter Processing Facility 3 (OPF-3), previously home to the Space Shuttle Discovery. The event, which was conducted by Boeing’s Chris Ferguson, deputy manager of the Commercial Crew Program, included short speeches by NASA Administrator Charles Bolden, KSC Director Bob Cabana and U.S. Senator Bill Nelson (D, Florida) who assured the audience that Congress will ultimately fund the Commercial Crew program.
Among speakers who didn’t fly on the Shuttle at some point were Boeing’s John Elbon and John Mulholland, who manage the aerospace giant’s Space Exploration and Commercial Crew programs respectively, and Governer Rick Scott, who manages the state of Florida and wasted no time inviting the company to consider a wholesale relocation to the sunshine state.