So I’m all excited about space taxis, the Dream Chaser space taxi specifically. I have thoughts of catching one at some point.
When I imagine space taxis, I think of Bruce Willis’ Fifth Element taxi cab. I know… he wasn’t flying in space, but it’s still the association I have.
In July of this year I got to go to a public lecture by the NASA Administrator Charles Bolden Jnr. He ended up turning it into a Q&A session which was really great! One of the questions on everyone’s mind was what is NASA doing now that the Shuttle program is finished. He talked of NASA concentrating on other projects like Mars for instance… and letting others take over the day to day logistics of transportation to and from the International Space Station (ISS), so a space taxi service.
Sierra Nevada Corporation is one of the companies signed up to create commercial space taxis. Dream Chaser is their project. As usual, Wikipedia came up with the goods for my inquisitive mind.
Dream Chaser Space Taxi
The Dream Chaser is a crewed suborbital and orbital vertical-takeoff, horizontal-landing (VTHL) lifting-body spaceplane being developed by Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC). The Dream Chaser design is planned to carry up to seven people to and from low earth orbit. The vehicle would launch vertically on an Atlas V and land horizontally on conventional runways.
The primary Dream Chaser Space System mission is to provide NASA with a safe, reliable commercially-operated transportation service for crew and cargo to the ISS and back to Earth. Future Dream Chaser missions potentially include delivering crew and cargo to other orbiting facilities, or functioning as a short term independent orbiting laboratory for other government agencies or commercial entities as well as potential orbital space tourism.
Dream Chaser is a reusable composite spacecraft designed to carry from two to seven people and/or cargo to orbital destinations such as the International Space Station It will have a built-in launch escape system and can fly autonomously if needed. It can use any suitable launch vehicle but is planned to be launched on a man-rated Atlas V 402 rocket. The vehicle will be able to return from space by gliding (typically experiencing less than 1.5 g on re-entry) and landing on any airport runway that handles commercial air traffic. Its reaction control system thrusters burn ethanol based fuel, which is not an explosively volatile material, allowing the Dream Chaser to be handled immediately after landing, unlike the Space Shuttle. Its thermal protection system (TPS) is an ablative tile created by NASA’s Ames center that would be replaced as a large group rather than tile by tile, and would only need to be replaced after several flights. There are plans to build a fleet of Dream Chasers. Check out the original article here.
It’s funny to think of space taxis jumping out of the realm of science fiction in my life time. I recall my Grandmother talking about the huge changes she saw in hers. For Granny it was the car, the television and men walking on the moon. Now I am standing in her shoes and understanding the amazement. The Dream Chaser space taxi is almost upon us.
What changes have you seen? What have been your favorites?
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