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Airport considers Dream Chaser spacecraft

Manufactured by Sierra Nevada Corporation, Dream Chaser is a space utility vehicle capable of multiple missions. CONTRIBUTED
Manufactured by Sierra Nevada Corporation, Dream Chaser is a space utility vehicle capable of multiple missions. CONTRIBUTED

HUNTSVILLE – If testing continues successful, Huntsville International Airport will be the first commercial service airport with permission and ability to accommodate Dream Chaser spacecraft landings.

A coalition of community leaders completed the study’s first phase of a study for landing feasibility in December 2015. Sierra Nevada Corporation builds the Dream Chaser.

Dream Chaser is a space utility vehicle capable of multiple missions. It can land on any runway that can accommodate a Boeing 737 or Airbus 320 class aircraft. The Dream Chaser spacecraft can be easily transported from landing site to launch site using various, standard cargo aircraft.

“Huntsville International Airport is pleased to report an initial phase of successful testing,” Rick Tucker said. Tucker is Executive Director for Huntsville – Madison County Airport Authority. “We are eager to move forward with our partners to keep Huntsville at the forefront of the space program.”

Dream Chaser uses a front skid instead of a front wheel for landing. Morell Engineering of Athens successfully conducted static and dynamic tests that showed the spacecraft’s deployed front skid plate would have negligible impacts to the Huntsville runway.

“Our historic leadership in space, combined with our great partnership with Sierra Nevada Corporation, make Huntsville a logical choice to land the Dream Chaser. We look forward to conducting additional studies,” Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle said.

The project team includes the cities of Huntsville and Madison, Madison County, Chamber of Commerce of Huntsville/Madison County, Huntsville Airport Authority and Teledyne Brown Engineering. When the team secures funding, additional studies will proceed in 2016 and submission of an application for a commercial landing license to the Federal Aviation Administration.

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