Private Space Taxi to Replace Retired Shuttles

The private space company Sierra Nevada has designed a spacecraft to take the place of NASA's recently retired shuttles, carrying astronauts to the ISS with greater efficiency. 

What's the Latest Development?


The private space company Sierra Nevada has come a long way in developing a space taxi to carry astronauts to and from the International Space Station. Called the Dream Chaser, the design is based on a space vehicle developed by NASA in the 1980s called the HL-20. "We took it out of the NASA attic," said Mark Sirangelo, chairman of Sierra Nevada, at this year's 28th National Space Symposium. The Dream Chaser is designed to seat seven, just like the retired space shuttles it is meant to replace. Expectations are that the new vehicle will be a more efficient and cost effective way of getting astronauts to and from low-Earth orbit. 

What's the Big Idea?

The Dream Chaser, one of several vehicles being designed to take astronauts to and from the ISS, is scheduled to begin full orbital flights by 2016. It and the other crafts "are being built with a combination of private investments and NASA funding, under a program that aims to foster the development of commercial spaceships to take the reins from the agency's recently retired space shuttle fleet." The growth of the private space industry is transforming what NASA does, from designing and launching space vehicles to becoming primarily a consumer of new space technology. 

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons


Related Articles

To save us, half of Earth needs to be given to animals

We're more dependent on them than we realize.

(Photo Lily on Unsplash)
Surprising Science
  • Scientists says our survival depends on biodiversity.
  • A natural climate strategy we often forget.
  • Seeing our place among the Earth's living creatures.
Keep reading Show less

New infographics show how cigarette smokers are socially penalized

There's a high social cost that comes with lighting up.

(Porch)
Sex & Relationships
  • The home improvement company Porch recently polled 1,009 people on their feelings about smoking.
  • The company recently published the results as infographics.
  • In terms of dating, 80 percent of nonsmokers find the habit a turnoff
Keep reading Show less

The "catch" to being on the keto diet

While short-term results are positive, there is mounting evidence against staying in ketosis for too long.

Brendan Hoffman / Getty
Surprising Science
  • Recent studies showed volunteers lost equal or more weight on high-carb, calorie-restricted diets than low-carb, calorie restricted diets.
  • There might be positive benefits to short-term usage of a ketogenic diet.
  • One dietician warns that the ketogenic diet could put diabetics at risk for diabetic ketoacidosis.
Keep reading Show less