The Dream Chaser Spacecraft

Nov 14, 2017, 00:39
The Dream Chaser Spacecraft

Dream Chaser is a derivative project from NASA's 1990s HL-20 Launch System, which in turn was inspired by the Soviet Spiral program, a series of spacecraft developed for space warfare and orbital-glide bombing since the late 1960s. The reusable craft is considered ideal for this task since it's smoother return will ensure the preservation of precious scientific specimens on board. But past year, NASA awarded a second round of contracts, in order to cover cargo shipments to the ISS from 2019 through 2024.

It's been in development by the Sparks, Nevada, company for more than 10 years. It's called a lifting body plane due to the lift being created by the body of the vehicle rather than the wings. A fully working version of the Dream Chaser could start making deliveries as soon as 2020, if all goes according to schedule. The flexible aircraft can also be rapidly turned around and reused for future flights. Sierra Nevada representatives announced on Twitter Saturday. It is being created to land on runways and then allow crews to access the materials flown back to Earth soon after landing. The spacecraft will launch on Atlas V rockets built by the United Launch Alliance and make runway landings.

Originally, Sierra Nevada had hoped its Dream Chaser would carry astronauts, and not just cargo, to the ISS.

11 that its Dream Chaser test article successfully performed a glide flight at Edwards Air Force Base in California. The successful flight had no passengers on board, and the vehicle flew itself instead of being controlled remotely. Since then, Sierra Nevada has been modifying the Dream Chaser to just carry cargo. The first one, back in 2013, didn't go all that smoothly: the vehicle's landing gears failed, causing the spaceplane to crash land and then skid off the runway. It was the second glide test for the project. Sierra Nevada plans to give more details on the test during a press conference this afternoon.