HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - Huntsville International Airport has signed a contract to apply for licensing to land the Dream Chaser spacecraft here in the Rocket City, according to the Huntsville/Madison County Chamber of Commerce.
In a news release, the chamber says the airport will now apply to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to be allowed to land the Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) spacecraft.
This enters into Phase II of the project to land Dream Chaser. The release explains, "This Phase II contract follows a Phase I contract completed in 2015 that examined the compatibility of SNC’s Dream Chaser with the existing runway and taxiway environments at the Airport."
The release also quotes Huntsville International Airport's Executive Director Rick Tucker as saying:
“The preliminary study proved the feasibility of landing so now we are pleased to announce that we have initiated the permitting process with the FAA. This is much more than an economic development project that will bring additional business to the airport and the community. This represents a shared vision of Huntsville as a leader in the commercial space economy as the first community to make a commitment to this vehicle and its role in space commerce.”
Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle adds, “We’re excited to continue our progress in this community-wide effort to land the Dream Chaser in Huntsville.”
And Madison County Commission Chair Dale Strong says, “Working to secure this permit through the FAA will allow this spacecraft to return to Earth’s orbit and land at Huntsville International Airport in Madison County, Alabama, home to Marshall Space Flight Center, The University of Alabama Huntsville, and HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology.”
The release says Phase II is expected to take at least 24 months.
SNC's Vice President of Business Relations John Roth says, "We are very excited to be working with Huntsville as the first commercial airport that will apply for an FAA permit to land Dream Chaser after an orbital mission. We feel that the ability to land a space mission on a commercial runway anywhere in the world is a big advantage of our vehicle and will bring space up close and personal to thousands of people who can come out and see the landings."