Please consider donating to Behind the Black, by giving either a one-time contribution or a regular subscription, as outlined in the tip jar to the right. Your support will allow me to continue covering science and culture as I have for the past twenty years, independent and free from any outside influence.
The competition heats up: In a press release today, Sierra Nevada has announced plans to build a version of Dream Chaser optimized for science research.
The Dream Chaser for Science, or DC4Science, spacecraft is designed to fly independently for short and extended durations to provide customers in such fields as biotech and pharmaceuticals, biology and life science, and material and fluid science with a flexible and evolvable vehicle easily suited for individual mission requirements.
More details here.
I call this version of Dream Chaser a variation of the X-37B because that is essentially what it would be, an unmanned reusable robot vehicle capable of taking experiments into space for periods of time and then bringing them safely back to Earth on a runway.
What Sierra Nevada is doing by announcing this now, shortly after the landing of the X-37B, is selling the concept in an effort to drum up customers who will then invest in the vehicle and thus help fund its construction.