Private company revives old NASA shuttle design November 17, 2005Posted by jtintle in Dream Chaser, HL-20, NASA, Space Fotos, Space News, Space Shuttle, SpaceDev.
- NewScientist.com news service
- Maggie McKee
The craft will be four times smaller and eight times lighter than the shuttle, with room for six crew and passengers (Artist’s impression: SpaceDev) A private company wants to sell NASA trips into orbit on a shuttle-like spaceship that the agency itself designed two decades ago. SpaceDev, an aerospace company based in California, US, has announced plans to build a spacecraft that will carry both tourists and astronauts into orbit. Called Dream Chaser, it is based on a small, plane-like craft called the HL-20 that NASA designed in the 1980s as an alternative to the space shuttle. It cost the space agency $2 billion to develop the design, along with a full scale prototype, but a working HL-20 was never built. NASA has since made details of the HL-20 design publicly available. SpaceDev also has ties with the space agency, helping NASA’s Ames Research Center explore different spacecraft concepts. The company says it could begin flying four-person suborbital flights in 2008 if it receives about $20 million in funding. It could then launch six-person missions to the International Space Station by around 2010 for an additional $100 million, it claims. “We think we have a winner because it’s NASA-designed,” says Jim Benson, founder and CEO of SpaceDev. “They’re familiar with it and the astronauts will like it.”