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Dream Chaser space plane is one step closer to naming Huntsville its re-entry site

The Federal Aviation Administration presented a draft environmental assessment on what it would mean to have a space plane land in Huntsville.

Posted: Dec 9, 2021 11:53 PM
Updated: Dec 10, 2021 7:41 AM

The future of commercial space landing is one step closer to the Rocket City!

Thursday, the Federal Aviation Administration presented a draft environmental assessment on what it would mean to have a space plane land in Huntsville.

In 2023, the Huntsville International Airport could become the first ever re-entry site for Sierra Space's "Dream Chaser". It's a reusable space plane that will resupply cargo to the International Space Station.

The Dream Chaser would only land in Huntsville. It would launch from Cape Canaveral, Florida, travel up to the space station, and touch down in Rocket City.

The Huntsville International Airport says there is no other city that would be a better fit for this type of venture into space.

"We think this is a natural fit for our community, we are after all the rocket city!" says Mary Swanstrom, the public relations manager for the Huntsville International Airport.

The airport is eager to be the first re-entry site for the new Dream Chaser space plane.

"We're well equipped. We have the 2nd longest runway in the southeast, at 12,600 feet," says Swanstrom.

Before the Dream Chaser can land on Huntsville's runway, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has to look at the environmental impact it could have on the city.

"The purpose of this virtual public meeting is to share information about the draft environmental assessment," says Jennifer Piggott, a contractor with FAA.

In a virtual meeting, the public heard from the FAA, Sierra Space company, and airport officials about how the Dream Chaser could impact Huntsville.

After hearing about the project, some residents can't wait for the first arrival date in 2023.

"The Huntsville community of course has a long history of supporting advanced space flight and other aerospace technologies, and I look forward to the opportunity to see Dream Chaser land at Huntsville!" says Huntsville resident Mark Spencer.

However, not everyone is on board.

"In Huntsville we build rockets. We have a NASA, engineering type of community, and we love what we do. But we do not launch the rockets from here, nor do we land them here. There's reasons for that," says Huntsville resident Robert Kendall.

One of those reasons being the sonic boom. However, officials say the boom won't be anything louder than a clap of thunder.

"We will of course be able to observe all of those important restrictions or important things that need to happen to make sure the landing is safe, and it's effective, and that it goes as planned," says Swanstrom.

The public has two more weeks to make any comments on the draft environmental assessment before the FAA publishes the final proposal. After that, the airport could soon get their license for commercial space landing.

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