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Commercial spaceships from Blue Origin and Sierra Nevada tested in wind tunnels

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Both Sierra Nevada's Dream Chaser and Blue Origin's Space Vehicle have gone into the wind tunnel, giving us a chance to see their designs in more detail.

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There might not be air in space, but the commercial shuttles aiming to escape the clutches of Earth's gravity still have to make their way through more than a few miles of atmosphere to get there. Because of this, aerodynamics are hugely important to a spacecraft's success, and two of the firms — Amazon founder Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin and Sierra Nevada's Dream Chaser — have been testing their designs in wind tunnels.

It's the first time that any real details of the Blue Origin Space Vehicle capsule (pictured above — Dream chaser is below) have been released: besides the suborbital rocket test launch, the company has been very secretive over its activities. The company's president Rob Myerson said in a press release that the unusual shape "provides greater cross-range and interior volume than traditional capsules without the weight penalty of winged spacecraft." Dream Chaser uses a design that seems more traditional than Blue Origin's, though still looks firmly rooted in science fiction.

Both designs are part of NASA's commercial crew development (CCDev) program, which received $50 million from government to fund the development of new spacecraft. They're competing with the likes of SpaceX to provide transport into space following the retirement of NASA's shuttle program.