NASA will soon begin testing the world’s first commercial space plane capable of orbital flight, which will be used to supplying the International Space Station (ISS). The agency is about to take delivery of the first aircraft Dream Chaser of Sierra Spacewhich should be an alternative to SpaceX ships for trips to the ISS.
In the coming weeks, the space plane that was given the name Tenacity, will make its way to NASA’s Ohio Test Center. The agency will test it one to three months. Specifically, it will perform vibration, acoustic and temperature tests to ensure that Tenacity can withstand the demanding conditions of a rocket launch.
If all goes well, Tenacity is set to make its maiden voyage into space in April 2024 on the second flight of United Launch Alliance’s Vulcan rocket. This rocket has yet to make its own first test flight, which is expected to take place in December. But it is possible that there will be a delay.
He has tenacity folding wings, which allow it to fit into the rocket’s payload bay. On its first mission, Tenacity is scheduled to stay with the ISS for 45 days. After that will return to Earth to the former shuttle landing pad at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, instead of falling into the ocean as is the custom for many spacecraft. Sierra says the spacecraft is capable of landing on any compatible commercial runway.
The company said that Tenacity can deliver cargo back to Earth at less than 1.5 G of overload, which is important for protecting sensitive cargo. The space plane will be able to deliver up to 12,000 kg of cargo to the ISS and bring up to around 4,000 kg of cargo back to the ground. Sierra also plans that its fleet will eventually be able to transport humans into low Earth orbit as well.