By Russ and Tiña De Maris
You may remember when men who first walked on the moon and their crewmates were brought back to earth. There was concern that some sort of “outer space bugs” might contaminate human life, so the fellows rode back from their historic flight in a special isolation unit on wheels – built by Airstream. Other outer space travelers were jitneyed to the launch pad in a sleek, aerodynamic-looking motorhome, also built by the Airstream gang. These units all had that stylized “silver bullet” look.
Now Airstream has jumped into the space race again. The latest version of the unit designed for hauling astronauts to the launch pad breaks the mold. No more “silver bullet.” Instead, the rig of choice looks suspiciously like a Class B motorhome, built by just-about-anybody. Team Airstream used their base Atlas Touring Coach, fitted out in spartan but comfortable seating, and dubbed it Astrovan II. The one-of-a-kind unit rolled out of the company’s facility in Jackson Center, Ohio.
The “official” model name of this carrier is actually CST-100 Starliner Crew Transport Vehicle, and comfortably seats eight astronauts and their flight suits. Included in the spec-sheet for Astrovan II, is the note on range: 400 miles. Aren’t all space vehicles built with a little redundancy? The riders will shuttle out to their rocket at Cape Canaveral, Florida – a long old ride of nine miles. However, should the Astrovan II be called to take them clear to the International Space Station, specs indicate the trip could be accomplished in just 15,925 hours – given optimal conditions.