New Space Shuttle Lands Safely – Sort Of
A new day is dawning at NASA, one in which private companies like the Sierra Nevada Corp. vie for the right to carry to be chosen to shuttle astronauts to the International Space Station and back in the next four or five years. The Dream Chaser space plane was recently tested in a helicopter drop from 12,500 feet, and performed admirably until it skidded off the runway when the left landing gear deployed late.
No big deal, according to company space systems chief Mark Sirangelo, who said the damage was minor. “The left gear was still attached and the tire wasn’t even shredded,” Sirangelo noted. “The crew cabin area was unscathed – astronauts would have been uninjured. The flights computers never stopped working, and nothing critical was damaged.”
After mothballing its own shuttle fleet a few years ago, NASA has plans to turn to the private industry to carry cargo and personnel into space in the future. Sierra Nevada is one of several U.S. companies hoping to land a government contract. The first orbital demo of the Dream Chaser shuttle is planned for 2016, with the first crewed orbital mission following in 2017.
Has anyone seen Chuck Yeager? (Derek Dowell – VNN) (Image: Flickr | Mathew Simantov)