Although much of the focus on 20th century space travel was, for good reason, focused on space shuttles and the missions astronauts took part in, one particular ground vehicle also happened to capture the hearts of so many: the Astrovan.
As of Monday, the world is no longer void of a vehicle prepared to carry astronauts to the launch pad as Airstream revealed the appropriately titled Astrovan II. The vehicle, built as a modifiedAtlas Touring Coach, will first go into service starting in 2020. Then, it will carry the first astronauts for a crewed mission onboard the Boeing-built .
With room for eight astronauts, the Astrovan II doesn't necessarily invoke the same charm as the original Astrovan, but its purpose is nonetheless significant.
Americans looked on in awe as individuals prepared to tackle a whole new frontier in the 20th century, and Astrovan II continues that tradition. The vehicle will carry three astronauts next year, who will then board CST-100 Starliner for a mission to the International Space Station. Airstream's had the honor of this role since 1969.
Special graphics adorn the sides of the Astrovan II that show off the CST-100 Starliner, and Boeing's company colors, silver and blue, wrap the rest of the vehicle. Inside, the cockpit's eight seats are specially tailored to make room for a suit pressurization device that astronauts will take with them when boarding CST-100 Starliner. Additionally, there's livestreaming tech inside so fans can watch as crews travel to the launch pad.
Astronvan II has already effectively earned its place in history. While the original vehicle sits on display in NASA's Kennedy Space Center Visitor's Complex, it can rest easy knowing Astrovan II is prepared for duty. Who knows where the astronauts it carries will be heading to in the future.