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Orbital unveils spaceplane proposal
Posted: Wed, Dec 15, 2010, 7:38 AM ET (1238 GMT)
Orbital Sciences spaceplane illustration (OSC) Orbital Sciences Corporation announced Tuesday that it has submitted a proposal to NASA for the development of a spaceplane that could ferry crews to and from the ISS. Orbital submitted the proposal as part of NASA's Commercial Crew Development, or CCDev, program to fund technology development for future crew transportation systems. The Orbital proposal would features a "blended lifting body" vehicle launched atop an Atlas 5 or other launch vehicle. The vehicle could accommodate four people for missions to the ISS. Orbital has partnered with several companies on the proposal, including launch vehicle developer United Launch Alliance; other reports indicate that suborbital space tourism company Virgin Galactic would also participate, ferrying the spaceplane with its WhiteKnightTwo aircraft. Orbital is already developing a separate spacecraft and launch vehicle system to transport cargo to the station under NASA's COTS program.
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