Top Secret Space Plane Returns From 2 Year Mission.

After  NASA shut down the space shuttle program, the U.S. was left with no re-usable spacecraft.  We have plenty of rockets, but nothing quite as useful as the shuttles.

Evidently, the military felt the same way.  The Air Force has been working on the X-37B un-manned spacecraft for almost a decade since it was turned over to them in 2004 by NASA.  The X-37B is the smallest space plane launched to date.

It is 1/20th the scale of its big brother the Boeing X-40A and its purpose isn’t known.

The spacecraft has spent an incredible 674 days in orbit and has recently landed.

The Air Force has acknowledged plans to build the X-37C which would be capable of carrying 6 crew to orbit.  Perhaps this is a competitor to the commercial ventures trying to get those contracts.  Who knows.  But two years in space seems to be a really excessive trial run for a space ferry.  Just sayin.  But it would be nice to have a shuttle program again.

– Ex astris, scientia –

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney in Pasadena, California and I am a Rising Star as rated by Super Lawyers Magazine.  As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities. Connect with me on Google +

Norman

New Crew Ship Designs Selected By NASA.

NASA has decided on the designs for its next capsules to take astronauts to space and return them safely to Earth.

Boeing and SpaceX have been awarded contracts to develop the new capsules, which should be ready by late 2017.

Since the space shuttles were retired in 2011, everyone has used Russia’s Soyuz vehicles to get to the International Space Station.  Then there were some political problems..

Boings CST-100 capsule will be capable of handling seven crew members.

SpaceX is developing a manned version of its already successful Dragon capsule that regularly re-supplies the ISS.

NASA is require to give funds to competing companies, which is smart as it avoids the military industrial complex version of crying about contracts (to some degree).

– Ex astris, scientia –

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney in Pasadena, California and I am a Rising Star as rated by Super Lawyers Magazine.  As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities. Connect with me on Google +

Norman

Chasing the Dream, Part Deaux.

The Sierra Nevada Corporation’s Dream Chaser spacecraft is moving toward viability.

The Dream Chaser finished four low and high speed ground tests at NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center in Edwards, Calif.  The tow-and-release tests took place at speeds ranging from 10 to 60 miles per hour (16 to 96 kph) to check the flight computer, guidance, steering and the flight surfaces.

“Watching Dream Chaser undergo tow testing on the same runway where we landed several space shuttle orbiters brings a great amount of pride to our Dream Chaser team,” stated Steve Lindsey, SNC’s Space Systems senior director of programs, who is also a former NASA astronaut.
The craft also went under “captive carry” test using a helicopter with the craft suspend under it for 2 hours. This was the second captive-carry test of the Dream Chaser and its first captive-carry.

International_Space_Station_after_undocking

SNC is one of three companies receiving money from NASA under the agency’s commercial crew program, whose goal is to move astronaut launches back to America in the next few years. The other competitors are SpaceX and Boeing.

– Ex astris, scientia –

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney in Pasadena, California and I am a Rising Star as rated by Super Lawyers Magazine.  As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities. Connect with me on Google +

Norman

Chasing the Dream.

Ever since the NASA space shuttle fleet has been retired, there hasn’t been any real replacement.  Now, the private Sierra Nevada Corp., based in Colorado, has plans to change the status quo.

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In the next few weeks, the company plans to perform a key drop-test for its Dream Chaser space-plane.  The Dream Chaser, will be released by a carrier helicopter at an altitude of 12,000 feet (3,657 meters), and hopefully glide back and land autonomously at NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center in California.

The unmanned 30-second drop test begins a series of trials prior to low-Earth orbit trips.  If the company is successful, they have a potentially lucrative contract with many governments to carry both crew and cargo to the International Space Station.  The space-plane could also potentially carry satellites into low earth orbit where they can be boosted to higher orbits.

The Dream Chaser has room for seven and looks like a miniature space shuttle. The craft is 29.5 feet (9 m) long and has a wingspan of 22.9 feet (7 m). For comparison, NASA’s space shuttle was 122 feet (37 m) long, with a wingspan of 78 feet (24 m).

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SNC isn’t the only company looking to cash in on the commercial space race.  SpaceX and Boeing both have space-planes that they are working on.

The Dragon from SpaceX has already docked with the ISS as I told you about here.

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The Boeing CST-100 (Crew Space Transportation) spacecraft is another capsule based project is still in development.

https://astronomyandlaw.files.wordpress.com/2013/02/mtf10-003-03_ccdev.jpg?w=300

The Dream Chaser space-plane is the only non-capsule design currently being developed.

NASA hopes at least one of these vehicles is ready to fly astronauts to and from the space station by 2017.

– Ex astris, scientia –

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney.  As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities.  Connect with me on Google +

Norman