Sierra Nevada’s Dream Chaser may land in Huntsville
HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — On Monday, June 15, at a meeting of the Huntsville / Madison County Chamber of Commerce, and also in France, at the Paris Air Show “Made In Alabama ” booth, a coalition of entities – including the City of Huntsville, the State of Alabama and Teledyne Brown Engineering – announced plans for a series of preliminary studies to assess the feasibility of landing Sierra Nevada Corporation’s (SNC ) Dream Chaser spacecraft at the Huntsville International Airport (HSV ).
“We are in the early stages of assessing what it would take to land the Dream Chaser spacecraft, at [HSV],” said Huntsville Mayor, Tommy Battle. “North Alabama has been a leader in space since the beginning, and we have to continue to do the things necessary to explore how we can maintain that leadership. We have a great partnership with [SNC], and we are looking forward to the outcome of these first assessments.”
According to the Chamber, the preliminary studies will be conducted, primarily, by Teledyne Brown and “will assess environmental factors such as airspace, traffic flow, potential impacts to commercial air traffic and the compatibility of SNC’s Dream Chaser spacecraft with the existing runway and taxiway environments at [HSV], a public use airport.”
SNC had previously listed the Kennedy Space Center’s (KSC) Shuttle Landing Facility (SLF) as Dream Chaser’s primary landing location. However, that was prior to the company losing out to Boeing and SpaceX for the transportation of astronauts to and from the International Space Station (ISS) in the latest “down-select” of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program (CCP).
In spite of not being chosen to transport ISS crew, SNC has continued with Dream Chaser development, focusing on cargo, and is still hopeful that the vehicle will be chosen in the next round of NASA’s ISS Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) contract awards.
According to SNC, Dream Chaser should be capable of landing at any airport that can accommodate a Boeing 737, and, in March, it announced an agreement to land an uncrewed “cargo” variant of the spacecraft at Ellington Airport, outside of Houston, and near NASA’s Johnson Space Center (JSC). Landing at Ellington would allow the return of cargo to JSC directly from the ISS.
Similarly, Huntsville is the location of several SNC customers, including NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC) and its ISS Payload Operations Center.
“Imagine being able to bring back critical or fragile payloads from space, and having them in a laboratory at [MSFC], Redstone Arsenal, HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology, or elsewhere, within mere minutes of touch-down. No other vehicle and no other region are so well-suited for each other, to accomplish new and great things in tomorrow’s commercial space economy,” said Dr. John Horack, Vice President of Global Commercial Space at Teledyne Brown.
Scott earned both a Bachelor's Degree in public administration, and a law degree, from Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama. He currently practices law in the Birmingham suburb of Homewood. Scott first remembers visiting Marshall Space Flight Center in 1978 to get an up-close look at the first orbiter, Enterprise, which had been transported to Huntsville for dynamic testing. More recently, in 2006, he participated in an effort at the United States Space and Rocket Center (USSRC) to restore the long-neglected Skylab 1-G Trainer. This led to a volunteer position, with the USSRC curator, where he worked for several years maintaining exhibits and archival material, including flown space hardware. Scott attended the STS - 110, 116 and 135 shuttle launches, along with Ares I-X, Atlas V MSL and Delta IV NROL-15 launches. More recently, he covered the Atlas V SBIRS GEO-2 and MAVEN launches, along with the Antares ORB-1, SpaceX CRS-3, and Orion EFT-1 launches.