Another landing locale may have just opened up for the private Dream Chaser space plane.
The space shuttle maker Sierra Space signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on Tuesday (June 21) with Spaceport America, which may have pave the way for the Dream Chaser to hit the base of New Mexico after its voyage.
Although not a pact, the MOU directs the two businesses to “pursue both” the re-entry license from the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for the arrival of the Dream Chaser in New Mexico. The FAA has already approved the spacecraft to land at Huntsville International Airport in Alabama, with representatives of Sierra Space commenting in a press release.
The possible inclusion of Spaceport America among authorized landmarks “will continue to open up access to space for all,” said Tom Vice, Sierra Space’s chief executive officer, on release. No timeline is provided for Spaceport America’s arrival if approved.
NASA has assigned Sierra Nevada the task of transporting at least six crewless aerial vehicles to the International Space Station (ISS) using the Dream Chaser. Flights depart from Florida’s Cape Canaveral Space Force Station for rockets at the United Launch Alliance Vulcan Centaur.
In addition to the Alabama site, the Dream Chaser is also in line to touch NASA’s former space shuttle at the Launch and Landing Facility at the Kennedy Space agency in Florida.
Other possible airlines are in the works at Oita Airport in Japan and Spaceport Cornwall in the United Kingdom, Sierra Space said in its latest release.
The company initially thought of the Dream Chaser as a vehicle used by ISS aircraft, but NASA eventually opted for SpaceX and Boeing to carry crew to and from the ISS. Sierra Space may build for other customers a version of the space shuttle.
NASA is currently receiving shipments to the ISS from SpaceX and Northrop Grumman. SpaceX’s Dragon capsule returns experiments to Earth while re-introduced, while Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus is designed to burn naturally in space. The Dream Chaser will provide another way to deplete Earth from the ISS.