The three companies that are building space taxis to transport NASA astronauts to and from the International Space Station all say they’re on track to get their spaceships into orbit by 2017 — provided that NASA keeps the money flowing.
California-based SpaceX was the latest to make a splash, thanks to last week’s unveiling of its Dragon V2 space capsule. But the Boeing Co. is about to ramp up operations at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center for its gumdrop-shaped CST-100 capsule. And Sierra Nevada Corp.’s Space Systems operation, headquartered in Colorado, is also making progress on its winged Dream Chaser mini-shuttle.
“We’ve had a busy few months,” Mark Sirangelo, head of SNC Space Systems, told NBC News this week. “The program is moving along quite rapidly.”
Last month, Sierra Nevada Corp. finished wind-tunnel testing for the Dream Chaser orbital design. “Getting all the aspects of wind tunnel testing done is about as close as you can come to flying in orbit,” Sirangelo said.
At NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility in Louisiana, Lockheed Martin has begun work on the version of the vehicle that’s due to be launched into orbit for the first time in late 2016 atop an Atlas 5 rocket. Lockheed Martin is part of the “dream team” that Sierra Nevada assembled to turn the Dream Chaser into a space-traveling reality.
“Things are beginning to be quite real for us,” Sirangelo said… see more