77ºF

Boeing Starliner simulator offers glimpse into future space transit

HOUSTONBoeing’s Starliner simulator landed at the George R. Brown Convention Center this week.

The Starliner is Boeing’s answer to putting Americans back in the business of launching U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station.

Dan Nelson of Boeing demonstrated the simulator.

"You can move it around, get a feel for it. Our forward velocity (is) with this rocker switch on top ... so clicking that forward will increase your forward speed," Nelson said.

Nelson helped guide visitors using the high-dollar video game.

The stakes are high.

Currently the U.S. pays the Russians more than $70 million per astronaut for the trip to space. Boeing hopes do it for half that.

"When we look at the spacecraft, it's a capsule design. But really it is a next generation space craft. Behind me you see two tablet displays and a new space suit that can interact with those displays. We have an automation of the vehicle. The vehicle flies itself to the ISS," Tony Castilleja of Boeing said.

Student Annette Morales took it for a flight.

"At first it was confusing. It's very different the way it moves. But after a while you get the hang of it and you start moving it and you get centered and it's really cool," Morales said.

The Starliner was designed to carry up to seven humans into space.

That could include a private customer visiting the International Space Station for research.

Boeing hopes to launch sometime in the middle of 2018.