Commercial crew development teams complete wind tunnel tests

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Two of the four teams contracted under the second phase of NASA's commercial crew development (CCDev) have completed wind tunnel tests of their designs. This triggers payments to both teams under the milestone-based deals.

Blue Origin, one of the four teams, has performed the aerodynamic tests on a scale model of its Space Vehicle, a biconic capsule meant to transport crew to the International Space Station (ISS). The publicity-shy company has not publicly announced a timeline for construction of a full-scale, flightworthy vehicle.

"The wind tunnel tests validated Blue Origin's analysis of the Space Vehicle's aerodynamics during descent through the atmosphere and the ability to change its flight path, increasing the number of available landing opportunities each day and enhancing the vehicle's emergency return capability," says the company. It says more than 180 tests were conducted at Lockheed Martin's high-speed wind tunnel in Dallas.

Sierra Nevada has also announced the completion of wind tunnel tests of its orbital vehicle, Dream Chaser. The tests took place at the University of Texas A&M wind tunnel in College Station, Texas. The company plans to begin drop tests of its engineering test vehicle shortly.