Northrop Grumman and Boeing have unveiled an "Apollo-like" spacecraft as their bid for returning humans to space once the Shuttle program is retired.

Northrop Grumman and Boeing unveiled a back-to-the-future concept for the next generation of space exploration vehicles Wednesday, displaying an Apollo-like capsule and support module as their offering in the competition for a system to take humans back to the moon and later to Mars.

The two aerospace giants are teamed in a bid for NASA's Crew Exploration Vehicle program, potentially a $100 billion project that is intended to replace the troubled Space Shuttle for servicing the International Space Station by 2012 and to carry astronauts to the moon by 2018. ...

The Northrop-Boeing proposal features a cone-shaped crew capsule that looks strikingly similar to the three-man Apollo spacecraft that last took Americans to the moon nearly three decades ago.

That design was determined to present the lowest technical risks and the best potential for meeting NASA's challenging timelines, said Douglas Young, vice president of Northrop's Integrated Systems in El Segundo and CEV program manager.

My prediction is that private space exploration will surpass NASA efforts before we ever actually get to Mars.



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