NASA’s seven-seat space taxi could take flight next summer as part of a test, according to a story from Reuters. The launch site will either be from the Edwards Air Force base in California’s Mojave Desert or from the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico.
There are four space taxis being manufactured by the private sector with support from the U.S. government. Sierra Nevada Corp.’s “Dream Chaser” space plane is the one expected to take flight next summer. Sierra Nevada recently received a $25.6-million boost to its existing $80 million contract with NASA, which prompted the arrangement of the test flight.
NASA is now dependent on the Russian space program to get an astronaut to the space station following the retirement of its shuttle program this summer. NASA pays an estimated $50 million for an astronaut to hitch a ride on the Russian program.
“Having only one way to get crew to the station is a limitation,” NASA astronaut Mike Fossum said during an in-flight interview last week. Fossum is now living aboard the outpost.
Reuters reports the station, a $100 billion project of 16 nations, was finished this year after more than a decade of construction 225 miles above the planet.