LOUISVILLE — Workers in Louisville have begun installing wings onto a spaceplane prototype expected to start deliveries to the International Space Station.
Nevada-based aerospace company Sierra Nevada Corp. said the wings for the Dreamchaser plane arrived this month to its plant in Louisville, where a group of 500 employees will work to attach them to the plane’s chassis ahead of a series of flights to the International Space Station.
Sierra Nevada won a NASA contract in 2015 to make reusable spaceships that can make supply runs to and from the International Space Station alongside competing space firm SpaceX Corp. and defense contractor Northrop Grumman Corp. (NYSE: NOC). The total value of those contracts is capped at $14 billion, according to federal contracting data.
However, Sierra Nevada’s plane has the capability of landing on a runway like a commercial jet when it returns to Earth instead of landing in the ocean.
Sierra Nevada is due to start the first of at least six resupply flights in late 2021.
A spokeswoman for the company said it will take about 20 weeks to fully install the wings and other components to the plane, along with structural testing. The company said it is maintaining social distance and other recommendations to reduce the spread of the coronavirus, but those won’t slow down the production timeline.
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