Commercial space companies complete wind tunnel testing

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Two of the four teams given awards under the second phase of commercial crew development (CCDev II) have announced completing wind tunnel testing. Both teams will receive money for the tests under the milestone-based contracts.

Blue Origin, one of the four awardees under NASA's commercial crew development (CCDev) programme, has announced completion of wind tunnel testing for its Space Vehicle scale model, a biconic capsule meant to transport crew to the International Space Station (ISS). The secretive company has not publically announced a timeline for construction of a full-scale, flightworthy vehicle.

The company is constructing a suborbital vehicle, New Shepard, capable of crossing into space but not achieving orbital velocities. The first example of that craft was destroyed during an experiment in August, 2011, while rocketing through 45,000ft and Mach 1.2.

"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. "More than 180 tests were conducted over the past several weeks at Lockheed Martin's High Speed Wind Tunnel Facility in Dallas (Texas)."

 blue origin

 ©Blue Origin

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