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Post by Chicago Astronomer Joe on Jun 26, 2005 20:14:36 GMT -6
Alternate Shuttle Aces Early Test
A new spacecraft has been successfully dropped off a launch jet into a vertical, midair blastoff position, an important innovation that could simplify future space launches.
Transformational Space, or tSpace, successfully tested its new spacecraft over California's Mojave Desert earlier this week -- dropping a 23 percent scale model of its rocket and crew capsule from a high-altitude jet.
The mockup dropped from the carrier plane into a vertical launch position without the use of wings. Rather than firing a rocket engine, the unmanned craft fell to Earth. But it performed exactly as computer models predicted, proving the viability of a new method for air-launching spacecraft.
The test establishes tSpace as a serious contender in the effort to build a replacement for NASA's aging fleet of space shuttles.