back to article Teensy weensy space shuttle flies and lands

Sierra Nevada Corporation's “Dream Chaser” automated spaceplane has successfully flown and landed. The vehicle looks a lot like NASA's Space Shuttle and like that vehicle can land on a runway. It's rather smaller, however, and at just nine metres long is designed to fit atop lots of launch vehicles and to carry crew and cargo …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    How teensie weensie exactly?

    ...article doesn't say... seriously, where is the detail Reg??

  2. sms123

    Re: How teensie weensie exactly?

    See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dream_Chaser

    "... while maintaining the relative outer mold line-6.9 m (22.5 ft) in length with a wingspan of 5.5 m (18.2 ft), ..."

  3. Khaptain Silver badge

    Re: How teensie weensie exactly?

    The El Reg article states 9m long, Wikipedia states 6.9m...

    Maybe there are several variations... It could be a small Shuttle or a large Playmobil.

    But in any event it is smaller than anything that I would feel comfortable re-entering the atmosphere in...

    please fasten your seat belts we are about to enter some turbulence...

  4. Norman Nescio Bronze badge

    Re: How teensie weensie exactly?

    ...I'm going to guess an itty bitty* bit bigger than a polka-dot bikini.

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    *Pedantic <spoiler>Yes, I know it should actually be itsy bitsy, but as El Reg said Teensy Weensy instead of Teenie Weenie, I reserve the right to follow their half-spoonerism</spoiler>

  5. MyffyW Silver badge

    Re: How teensie weensie exactly?

    I would like to clarify that not all polka dot bikinis are itsy-bitsy.

    As Anthony said to Cleopatra "Some girls are bigger than others"

  6. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Thumb Up

    Actually not much like the Shuttle at all

    The Shuttle was a fairly conventional body-and-wings design like a normal aircraft.

    People go with lifting bodies because they want to minimize the wing are, and hence the area you need to cover with a heat shield.

    Otherwise LB's tend to have much worse handling characteristics than body-and-wings (which is an impressive feat, given the Shuttle handled like a brick).

    DC is actually the most cutting edge tech seen for ISS resupply. It's a crew rated (given it has to berth to the Station) all composite (carbon fibre) human sized lifting body. Nothing has all those things together in one package.

  7. lglethal Silver badge
    Joke

    Re: Actually not much like the Shuttle at all

    "given the Shuttle handled like a brick"

    "The ships hung in the sky in much the same way that bricks don't.”

    Worked for the Vogons!!!

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: How teensie weensie exactly?

    "But in any event it is smaller than anything that I would feel comfortable re-entering the atmosphere in..."

    The space capsules of early years would have been smaller than that. There was a Soviet Exhibition in London in the 1960s where they had one of their space capsules on display.

    IIRC it was a large metal ball with a circular hatch cover containing a small porthole. The hatch was held in place by something like 25mm diameter studs secured by hex nuts. Quite an apparently low-tech contrast to the US Gemini capsules.

  9. deconstructionist

    Re: Actually not much like the Shuttle at all

    Actually this is nearly identical to NASA's original design for the shuttle until the military turned it into a disaster waiting to happen, so I am sure there will be NASA bodies lamenting at how this was how it should have been done , though this time the military cant f**k it up again.

  10. Trumpet Winsock

    Re: How teensie weensie exactly?

    And some are further away...

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Actually not much like the Shuttle at all

    this time the military cant f**k it up again.

    Well, they don't need to since (having experimented on humans with the original Space Shuttle) they've now had their own built, the X37.

    Of course, the idea of a lifting body space plane isn't a US invention, it is a copy of an idea the Russians were trialling in the 1980s. I suppose with the F35B being an expensive copy of the Yak 141, the Russians are now originators for the US' cutting edge programmes. What will America do if the Russians stop giving them these ideas?

  12. Mage Silver badge
    Alien

    Re: Actually not much like the Shuttle at all

    It does seem a lot like the X37.

    More similar to X37 size?

    The X37B specs from Wikipedia:

    Length: 29 ft 3 in (8.92 m)

    Wingspan: 14 ft 11 in (4.55 m)

    Height: 9 ft 6 in (2.90 m)

    Max takeoff weight: 11,000 lb (4,990 kg)

    Payload bay: 7 × 4 ft (2.1 × 1.2 m)

  13. Holtsmark

    Re: Actually not much like the Shuttle at all

    "Of course, the idea of a lifting body space plane isn't a US invention, it is a copy of an idea the Russians were trialling in the 1980s."

    If the Russians played with lifting bodies in the eighties, then THEY were the copyycats.

    "The original idea of lifting bodies was conceived about 1957 by Dr. Alfred J. Eggers Jr., then the assistant director for Research and Development Analysis and Planning at what later became the NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, CA"

    "In 1962, FRC Director Paul Bikle approved a program to build a lightweight, unpowered lifting body as a prototype to flight test the wingless concept. Construction was completed in 1963"

    https://www.nasa.gov/centers/dryden/history/pastprojects/Lifting/index.html

    All this research made it possible to create the DreamChaser without having to spend large amounts of money on aerodynamic research. Basically they picked up a dropped NASA project,

  14. TechnicalBen Silver badge

    Re: AC and the Yak

    Thank you for posting that, I'm now on a little Wiki-rabbithole. :D

    That looks like one crazy aircraft. Crazy in the good sense! And to think it's a design almost as old as me. How did I not know such a thing existed?

  15. Holtsmark

    Re: AC and the Yak

    It was a series of aircraft.

    The first one was built by NASA scientists in their spare time. Apparently quite a few of them were building their own aircraft on hobby basis.

    As the program moved on, the basic shape aquired a flat under surface with delta wing and long chin strakes https://www.nasa.gov/sites/default/files/images/299259main_EC75-4643_full.jpg

    Looks familiar doesnt it?

    Following the evolution of aircraft design can be quite facinating.

    For example the offspring of TA183 can be all over the world. amazingly the Saab Tunnan is the one that got closest to the original design, apparently because the Swedish were most adept at reading german technical documentation on it's original language.

  16. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

    Re: Actually not much like the Shuttle at all

    "https://www.nasa.gov/centers/dryden/history/pastprojects/Lifting/index.h"

    I'm getting a special NASA 404 page on that , has the weight of reg readers stampeding over there to read it broken it? in an hour?

  17. GruntyMcPugh Silver badge

    Re: Actually not much like the Shuttle at all

    "copy of an idea the Russians were trialling in the 1980s"

    Your timeline is a bit off.

    Russia had Buran in the 80s, which was a reply to the US Space Shuttle.

    Before both systems were the US lifting body experiments, plus the Dynasoaur, and the Soviet BOR and MiG-105 testbeds, all starting in the '60s. The soviets were trailing in this research, the USA was trialling lifting body aircraft in the early '60s, whereas the MiG-105 wasn't until 1969.

    Dreamchaser however does strongly resemble the MiG-105.

  18. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

    Re: How teensie weensie exactly?

    The picture in Reg is not actual size? Aww.

  19. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

    Re: How teensie weensie exactly?

    The picture in Reg is not actual size? Aww.

    Depends how big your monitor is

  20. PC LOAD LETTER

    Re: Actually not much like the Shuttle at all

    Sadly no, it seems to work, but needs the full ".html" at the end:

    https://www.nasa.gov/centers/dryden/history/pastprojects/Lifting/index.html

    But thanks for the fun 404! Kinda rare these days. For the 404 go here:

    https://www.nasa.gov/centers/dryden/history/pastprojects/Lifting/index.h

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Actually not much like the Shuttle at all

    Ever considered that two people can independently come up with the same solution?

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gXlfXirQF3A

  22. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

    Re: How teensie weensie exactly?

    I would like to clarify that not all polka dot bikinis are itsy-bitsy.

    Or, presumably, yellow..

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Space Shuttle = lifting body says NASA Re: Actually not much like the Shuttle at all

    It says here:

    https://www.nasa.gov/audience/forstudents/9-12/features/F_Aeronautics_of_Space_Shuttle.html

    "The Space Shuttle is a Lifting Body"

    "The space shuttle, with a shape like a bulky glider, is actually a lifting body"

    - and let's face it, NASA ought to know.

    As it happens, the Apollo Command Module also counted as a lifting body, albeit with a much worse lift to drag ratio. Those stubby little wings on the Space Shuttle is how come the thing was able to land on a runway rather than having to splash down in the ocean underneath parachutes.

  24. Long John Brass Silver badge

    RTFA

    It's 0.9762 Double-decker bus

  25. Michael Thibault Bronze badge

    The critical detail...

    Is it more than one lane wide?

  26. MyffyW Silver badge

    Re: The critical detail...

    12 yards long, 2 lanes wide,

    65 tons of American Pride...

  27. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

    Re: The critical detail...

    "12 yards long, 2 lanes wide,

    65 tons of American Pride..."

    oh , like those Cadillacs they made in the '60s

  28. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge
    Paris Hilton

    Re: The critical detail...

    12 yards ....

    oh .right . now I get it . Simpsons ....

  29. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

    Re: The critical detail...

    oh , like those Cadillacs they made in the '60s

    No - the DC handles considerably better (Or, at least, I hope so..)

  30. Schultz Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    How cute

    Next, give it to some astronaut and have him drop it from the space station!

  31. Jonathan Richards 1

    Re: How cute

    Yep. Helicopter drop height, as reported:

    3 km

    Kármán line (edge of space):

    100 km

    Orbital height of ISS:

    405 km

    We should call this Rary. As in, "It's a long way to tip a Rary".

  32. Neil Barnes Silver badge

    Playmobil

    Lester would have had such great fun with this one.

    Of which, I note that Playmobil now sell a glider with pilot... lacks the fun rocket engine, though.

  33. Michael Thibault Bronze badge

    Re: Playmobil

    There's nothing wrong with technology that a little innovation can't fix.

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Playmobil

    Do they still sell the solid fuel Jetex engines? Made my pal's Airfix Lanchester model car fly.

  35. Spiracle

    Re: Playmobil

    Do they still sell the solid fuel Jetex engines? Made my pal's Airfix Lanchester model car fly.

    'fly' or 'hurtle'?

  36. Martin Gregorie Silver badge

    Re: Playmobil

    Jetexes are long gone. You can still find them on eBay, but since you can no longer get fuses or fuel pellets for them, they are collector's items.

    The closest replacements are the Czech-made Rapier Rocket motors, which are just a range of small slow-burning model rocket motors that give similar thrust to Jetex motors and burn for a similar time.

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Playmobil

    "'fly' or 'hurtle'?"

    Well it definitely was airborne.

  38. Lt.Kije

    Re: Playmobil

    Ah, the awesome jetex.

    In my impatience to fire up my new Payloader, I hung it from a washing line strung inside the greenhouse, lit the fuse and retired to a not quite safe distance. It quickly became a blurred into a disc around the washing line before achieving escape velocity.

    It smashed a neighbour's window before the shattered greenhouse glass had hit the ground.

  39. Michael Thibault Bronze badge

    Re: Playmobil

    "It smashed a neighbour's window before the shattered greenhouse glass had hit the ground."

    So, promising tethered-flight test results. Bad news about the budget?

  40. Mark 85 Silver badge

    Re: Playmobil

    Jetexes are long gone. You can still find them on eBay, but since you can no longer get fuses or fuel pellets for them, they are collector's items.

    I have fond memories of the Jetexe. They were a bit tough to find back then but available. Then there was Estes which were popular and they're still available. https://www.estesrockets.com/

  41. Lt.Kije

    Re: Playmobil

    The pocket money account ran at a deficit for a longtime.

  42. Spudley

    Re: Playmobil

    Playmobile also sell a rocket which can be launched into spaaaaaacccce onto the neighbour's roof.

    http://www.playmobil.co.uk/rocket-with-launch-booster/6187.html

  43. Overflowing Stack

    What next?

    Brewery making a space plane! Does it have an optional hipster beard?

  44. Joe Werner

    Re: What next?

    Was my first thought as well :)

    First time I had one of theirs was at the Endurance Challenge in the Marin County Headlands (cool race by the way, but I only did the half marathon). Sierra Nevada provided free beer after the race (1st free, then really cheap afterwards).

  45. macjules Silver badge

    How many flights?

    Isn't this it's first actually successful flight? IIRC the last one ended rather badly with the nose landing gear failing to deploy.

    I think that I would like to see a lot more testing, including a space launch and recovery, before I signed it up to ISS resupply missions.

  46. hplasm Silver badge
    Holmes

    Re: How many flights?

    It does seem to be missing the two most dangerous parts of a space mission, particularly for a winged reusable thingy.

  47. Richard 12 Silver badge

    Re: How many flights?

    If 'twas only nose gear failure then the previous flight was also a success, with a poor landing.

    Most aircraft can pull off a successful landing without nosegear (or tailwheel).

    Sometimes you can even use the plane again.

  48. Joe Werner

    Re: How many flights?

    If you can walk away, the landing was successful ;)

    And: flaring is for cowards...

  49. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: How many flights?

    "Sometimes you can even use the plane again."

    Belfast airport last week.

  50. Symon Silver badge
    Go

    Re: How many flights?

    "Belfast Airport"

    I don't understand why all airports aren't equipped with these?

    5, 4, 3, 2, 1. ----->

    https://youtu.be/EOCmI72eRh4

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