Thursday, July 07, 2011

U.S. Commercial Space Taxi Coming To KSC

A Colorado company plans to launch U.S. commercial space taxis from Cape Canaveral and base the spacecraft at Kennedy Space Center, officials said today.

The Sierra Nevada Dream Chaser will blast off atop United Launch Alliance Atlas V rockets at Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. The spaceplanes, which resemble small space shuttle orbiters, will be able to carry up to seven people to and from the International Space Station. The spacecraft will land at the three-mile shuttle runway at KSC.

NASA and Sierra Nevada signed a Space Act Agreement that will enable the company and the agency to work together on determining facilities that could serve as Dream Chaser processing hangars. No specific site has been selected yet, but the spaceplanes would not require buildings as large as NASA's Orbiter Processing Facility bays.

Sierra Nevada also would be able to tap into NASA engineering expertise as part of the deal.

Company officials said their future Florida operations would create dozens of jobs, perhaps up to 100 or more.

The Dream Chaser spaceplanes are expected to begin flying around 2015.


steele-environmental said...


This project should have been fast-tracked 5 years ago, so we would not have a space-craft gap.

Mark Lopa said...

The shuttle lives! This is great news.

Any news on how many taxis will be built? Will they have names?

Dr. Dan Woodard said...

In 2000 we had had four different projects to test technologies for a shuttle replacement. All were cancelled or abandoned by NASA under Bush. Sean O'Keefe, then the NASA administrator, announced that even under the best of circumstances there would be no us manned launches for at least five years. At that point the massive layoffs were unavoidable.

Unfortunately the Dream Chaser cannot land on a runway because it has no wings.

DKBSPACE said...

Sorry, Dr. Woodard, the Sierra NV design can land on the shuttle runways. The lifting body has slow speed controls, and they have been tested by designs in the 1960s at Edwards AFB. lateral/yaw control is tricky but doable. Lots of aero wind tunnel data to back this up, too.