Dream Chaser engineering vehicle completes tow tests


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Capitalism in space: Sierra Nevada’s engineering test vehicle for testing its Dream Chaser design has completed tow tests at Edward Air Force Base in California and is now being prepared for flight tests.

Posted on the back roads of Montana during our drive from Glacier to Capital Reef.

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3 comments

  • SCooper

    I am impressed, the Dream Chaser can do what any U-Haul trailer can do. How long have they been working on this thing?

  • SCooper

    They’re picking up the pace. Now they are seeing if it can be carried as cargo. https://www.facebook.com/NASA/?hc_ref=ARS0QekFoC_UCXrveKA39POA3Sg4H0hW5qw5ig_ZXQTMA8hyU3BdGmBU0jB9vDEFlhA&fref=nf

  • Edward

    SCooper asked: “How long have they been working on this thing?

    Dream Chaser has a long history, dating back to 2004. It was proposed for the first Commercial Orbital Transportation Services program (COTS) but not chosen for development for flight under the Commercial Resupply Services program (CRS).

    Sierra Nevada began work on a manned version of Dream Chaser as a proposal for the manned version of COTS, Commercial Crew Development (CCDev), in 2010. It was chosen for some development work during the competition, and that was when an aerodynamic version was constructed to show that it could land on a runway. However, Dream Chaser was again not chosen for space operations.

    Because CRS was successful, when the ISS lifespan was increased to the year 2024 Sierra Nevada again applied for Dream Chaser in the extension version of CRS, CRS-2, in 2014. The contracts were awarded at the beginning of last year. Unlike the manned version, the current cargo version of Dream Chaser has folding wings in order for the craft to fit within the Atlas V fairing.

    Sierra Nevada has spent the past 1-1/2 year (or maybe three years) developing, designing, and building this folding-wing version. Now that they have one to test, verification that it is ready for spaceflight should proceed fairly quickly. If all goes well, then Dream Chaser could be ready for spaceflight and cargo runs in 2019.

    Another advantage of having three commercial cargo craft is that commercial space stations (e.g. Bigelow, Ixion, and Axiom) will have plenty of competing cargo companies to keep supplies coming at affordable prices.

    If Dream Chaser is successful, I expect Sierra Nevada to finish development of the manned version, giving commercial space stations a third competing company in that realm, too.

    When it comes to commercial space exploration and development, I expect the 2020s to be known as the “roaring twenties.” It should be almost as exciting as the 1960s were for space exploration.

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