Planetary Radio • May 10, 2016

Dream Chaser: The Return of the Spaceplane

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On This Episode

20160510 mark sirangelo thumbnail

Mark Sirangelo

Corporate Vice President for Sierra Nevada Corporation's Space Systems

We’re back at Space Symposium for a conversation with SNC’s Mark Sirangelo, leader of that company’s effort to build the Dream Chaser. We’ll also hear a few moments of Bill Nye’s session at the annual gathering as he hosted Bernard Foing and Amy Mainzer. Emily lets us sample her “What’s Up in the Solar System” May roundup. Bruce Betts helps Mat Kaplan feel better about missing the transit of Mercury.

The Dream Chaser
The Dream Chaser Sierra Nevada Corporation's Dream Chaser spacecraft is readied for a tow test at NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center on Aug. 2, 2013. During the test, a truck towed the Dream Chaser to a speed of 60 mph before releasing it, allowing engineers to test the vehicle's braking and landing systems.Image: NASA / Ken Ulbrich

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This week's grand prizes are Planetary Radio t-shirt, a Planetary Society rubber asteroid, and a 200-point astronomy account!

This week's question:

Approximately how much more massive is the star Sirius A (brightest in the sky) than our sun?

To submit your answer:

Complete the contest entry form at or write to us at [email protected] no later than Tuesday, May 17th at 8am Pacific Time. Be sure to include your name and mailing address.

Last week's question:

What is the date of the next Mercury transit of the Sun as seen from Earth after the May 9, 2016 transit?


The answer will be revealed next week.

Question from the week before:

When was the first recorded observation of Mercury’s transit across the sun, and who made that observation?


The first well-documented observation of Mercury’s transit across the sun was made on November 7, 1631 by Pierre Gassendi, though it may have happened hundreds of years earlier when Ibn Bajjah saw something cross the star.