Sandusky, Ohio – Home of the Wright Brothers, Ohio is known as the “Birthplace of Aviation.” But, as we were reminded during an event Thursday (Feb. 1), the state also has some serious space travel hopes.
Earlier in the day, NASA and Colorado-based company Sierra Space gave reporters a closer look. A dream chaserA private space plane is scheduled for its maiden voyage International Space Station (ISS) later this year.
This event took place at NASA Neil Armstrong Test Facility Here in Sandusky. The robotic Dream Chaser and its cargo module — vehicles named “Tenacity” and “Shooting Star,” respectively — were stacked vertically, where they would remain at launch. Both are 55 feet tall (16.8 meters) – roughly the length of a school bus!
Related: Dream Chaser enters final testing ahead of first space flight in 2024
“To turn bold dreams into bold actions, it takes enormous amounts of perseverance, tenacity, self-belief, determination and passion. So we name our products with these emotional attributes that will get you through the tough times,” Tom, a former NASA astronaut. Marshburn, who is now Sierra Space's chief medical officer, said during Thursday's event.
“It's hard to build commitment,” he added. “We've collectively discovered a lot of things that don't always work right the first time. And we've learned a lot over the last six years that Tenacity has gotten us, so there's no other name.”
Tenacity's highly anticipated debut will carry cargo to the ISS for NASA. The uncrewed demonstration mission will help advance space science and continue to fuel the growing economy in low Earth orbit.
But before the inaugural voyage begins, Tenacity and the Shooting Star must complete various tests. That's what happens here at Sandusky: Spacecraft are put through their paces at the NASA center's Mechanical Vibration Facility. These tests expose the vehicles to the various harsh environments they experience during a mission, such as the jarring they receive during launch, which occurs at a United Launch Alliance. Vulcan Centaur rocket.
“All the testing and development testing we've done over the last six years, all the autonomy and aerodynamics — the rest of the testing is environmental testing of what the vehicle actually sees on the launch pad during the Vulcan ride up,” Sierra said. Aerospace CEO Tom Wise said Thursday. “This experiment has to do with replicating the environment of space, the vacuum of space; it's going to be done in a thermal vacuum chamber.”
Sierra Space Commercial Redistribution Services-2 (CRS2) is available) Many years cContract from NASA In 2016, at least six ISS cargo delivery missions should be provided. A step A recent publication by NASAThis is part of an ongoing effort to increase commercial resupply options in low Earth orbit.
NASA continues to partner with the US private sector when transporting cargo and astronauts to the station. For example, the agency signed commercial group agreements with Boeing and SpaceX in 2014. Elon Musk's company has already launched seven operational crew missions to the ISS. Getting ready for number eight. (Boeing, on the other hand, aims to launch the first crew test flight of its Starliner capsule this spring.)
NASA officials and research advocates say the growing involvement of private players in ISS resupply could greatly increase science revenue down the road.
“They continue the lifeblood of research in zero g that the ISS is doing now and we hope to do for the future, and we're talking about new objects,” Marshburn said.
“The cytoskeletal structure of both human cells and bacteria actually changes in weightlessness and a lot of people don't realize how they work,” he added. “NASA has been able to develop new vaccines, crystal growth, all kinds of things you can do in weightlessness. I think we're just in the first few steps of what we can do once in a brand new world. We're starting to fly.”
As the Shooting Star lives up to its name and burns up in Earth's atmosphere after its one mission, Tenacity will land and prepare for another liftoff. In fact, the space plane was designed Fly up to 15 missions.
The Tenacity will carry 7,800 pounds (3,540 kilograms) of cargo on its first flight, although on future missions it will carry up to 11,500 pounds (5,215 kg). The spacecraft is designed to bring home 3,500 pounds (1,590 kg) of cargo and test samples, while 8,700 pounds (3,950 kg) of debris can be disposed of in the cargo module during re-entry.
Related: Meet 'Tenacity': 1st Dream Chaser Spacecraft Named
The builders of the Dream Chaser aimed to create something reusable and highly reliable.
“If we're a company that wants to benefit life on Earth, we need to understand what the impact is,” Weiss said. “So we've designed the vehicle to use a very special fuel as well; it's hydrogen peroxide and refined kerosene, so we don't really use hazardous materials. So we think it's very unique — the ability to fly multiple times at once. It allows the vehicle to leave a smaller footprint each time.”
Launch of Tenacity and Shooting Star is currently targeted from Space Launch Complex 41 in the first half of this year. Cape Canaveral Space Force Station In Florida. After liftoff, teams from Sierra Space's Dream Chaser Mission Control Center in Louisville, Colorado, NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, and NASA crews Johnson Space Center Houston will work together to monitor the flight, control the spacecraft, and perform in-orbit demonstrations to help certify the system for future missions.
“The research carried out on the space station is huge, but more than that, it enhances the learning ability of this large community to travel to and from space and learn from it,” said Bill Dempsey, transportation coordination manager for NASA's International Space Station program. said during Thursday's event.
“People are sitting at home and you're asking them a question — why should I do it, why should our tax dollars go to it? It's not so much for any individual reason, but because of the learning we've had as an industry and the difficulty of space travel and space travel, as humanity, Dempsey said. “It contributes to what we can do as people on Earth as a whole, when we look at doing things outside of Earth, or improving jobs on Earth, or doing research that benefits us.”
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