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NASA-Backed 'Space Taxi' to Fly Next Year

Dream Chaser's first test flight scheduled for summer 2012
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 13, 2011 2:21 AM CDT

(Newser) – With the space shuttles retired, NASA currently has to rely on the Russians to ferry astronauts and cargo to and from the International Space Station. But it hopes to be able to hail a taxi soon. Dream Chaser, one of four "space taxis" being developed by private industry with support from NASA, will make an unmanned test flight next summer, reports Reuters.

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The seven-seat spacecraft will be carried to high altitude by Virgin Galactic's WhiteKnightTwo carrier aircraft. Boeing's Space Exploration Technologies and Amazon founder Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin are also developing spacecraft with NASA's help. As the private sector works on short-haul spacecraft, NASA is working on a spacecraft capable of bringing astronauts to the moon, asteroids, Mars, and beyond. (Read more space travel stories.)

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