Take a Space Shuttle and cut it into a fourth. What do you now have? Duh, a mini space plane. Orbital Sciences Corp.'s wants these little shuttles to transport crews to and from the International Space Station.
Orbital's mini shuttle has enough room to fit four astronauts. It has no engine and would dock to the ISS on its rear.
According to Orbital, its reusable space plane is much more cost effective than using a capsule-based shuttle such as the SpaceX. Thanks to the mini shuttle's "blended lifting body" it can glide smoothly back to Earth from its orbital trajectory as opposed to capsules that "scream through the atmosphere" and rely on parachutes to slow down its momentum.
The Space Shuttle may be retiring, but that doesn't mean the dream is dead. Long live the mini Space Shuttle.