CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — Sierra Space's Dream Chaser spaceplane, which looks like a mini space shuttle, is cleared for landing at Kennedy Space Center starting next year.
The spaceplane will call NASA's Launch & Landing Facility at the Sunshine State-based center home and is under a Commerical Resupply Services 2 contract for six cargo flights to the International Space Station.
But the company also has its eye on getting the chance to carry astronauts into low-Earth orbit in the future.
“You will someday see this vehicle land on this runway and people walk right off of it and that will be a wonderful day indeed," Executive Vice President of Space Systems for Sierra Nevada Corporation Dr. Janet Kavandi said.
Sierra Space is an independent company derived from the Sierra Nevada Corporation in an effort to keep up with the commercialization of space, according to Kavandi.
Dream Chaser will be processed in Florida ahead of its cargo missions and won't be the first winged spacecraft to touchdown on the landing site. The strip of runway actually has a rich history of being the same location that served NASA's Space Shuttle era for 30 years.
“It’s a truly exciting time for America’s space program. This is the future. It’s this government, commercial partnership, this cooperation that we have where it’s not one or the other but it’s both of us locked together as we move forward that has turned this into what it is," Kennedy Space Center Director Bob Cabana said.
The first vehicle is currently being built and is expected to be ready to be shipped to Ohio for further testing next spring. Once it clears all its checkpoints, Dream Chaser will be shipped to Florida in time for its first launch.
Dream Chaser is a multi-mission space utility vehicle that was designed to take both crew and cargo into low-Earth orbit. According to the company, the spaceplane is capable of flying at least 15 missions and carrying up to 12,125-pound payloads.
You can learn more about the spacecraft's efforts and progress here.
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