Feeds

New spaceplane proposed for NASA station crew contract

Pocket shuttle offers astronauts backdoor entry

Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable

Another candidate to replace NASA's space shuttle in the task of carrying astronauts to and from the International Space Station (ISS) has come forward. Unlike most of the other contenders, it is a winged space plane rather than a capsule.

The proposed CCDev spaceplane from Orbital Sciences pictured during ISS operations. Credit: OSC

In space, nobody can hear your ship going 'beep beep beep'

Orbital Sciences Corporation, an American firm which makes satellites and launch rockets, yesterday announced its proposal for NASA's Commercial Crew Development (CCDev) plan, under which the space agency will hire private companies to provide passage to and from the ISS. CCDev is a new way of doing business for NASA, which formerly bought rockets, spacecraft etc from contractors but operated them itself.

The Orbital proposal has several important differences from today's Shuttles. The "blended lifting body" spaceplane doesn't have its own engines like a Shuttle orbiter: rather it will travel into space atop a conventional throwaway rocket stack. It will carry just four astronauts, and will dock with the space station using a hatch situated at the rear, where the Shuttle has its engines. After departing from ISS, the Orbital craft will descend to a runway landing.

Most other contenders for CCDev - Elon Musk's Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft, Boeing's CST-100 and the Orion craft which survives from NASA's cancelled Constellation programme - are capsules, intended to re-enter the atmosphere without much alteration to their orbital track and set down by parachute. The Shuttle's spotty safety record has made many designers wary of spaceplanes.

That said, there is another winged craft contending to be a CCDev astronaut lifter, the "Dream Chaser" design submitted by Sierra Nevada Corporation. Orbital's new offering is somewhat smaller, with four seats as compared to six, and appears to have more wing area - hinting at greater "cross range" capabilities.

HP ProLiant Gen8: Integrated lifecycle automation

More from The Register

next story
Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 claimed lives of HIV/AIDS cure scientists
Researchers, advocates, health workers among those on shot-down plane
The Sun took a day off last week and made NO sunspots
Someone needs to get that lazy star cooking again before things get cold around here
Mwa-ha-ha-ha! Eccentric billionaire Musk gets his PRIVATE SPACEPORT
In the Lone Star State, perhaps appropriately enough
MARS NEEDS OCEANS to support life - and so do exoplanets
Just being in the Goldilocks zone doesn't mean there'll be anyone to eat the porridge
Diary note: Pluto's close-up is a year from … now!
New Horizons is less than a year from the dwarf planet
Forty-five years ago: FOOTPRINTS FOUND ON MOON
NASA won't be back any time soon, sadly
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Prevent sensitive data leakage over insecure channels or stolen mobile devices.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.
Mobile application security vulnerability report
The alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, and the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.