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Dream Chaser to launch on ULA’s Vulcan rocket

Capialism in space: Sierra Nevada today announced that it will use ULA’s Vulcan rocket for the six unmanned cargo flights of Dream Chaser to ISS beginning in 2021.

Sierra Nevada engineers and the company’s owners, Fatih and Eren Ozmen, considered boosters built in Japan, Europe and by SpaceX and Blue Origin. But they ultimately selected United Launch Alliance, they said, based on a competitive — but undisclosed — cost, the Vulcan’s capabilities, ULA’s unblemished launch record and a long-standing working relationship.

While the six space station resupply missions are baselined to fly on the Vulcan, with ULA’s Atlas 5 available as a backup, CEO Fatih Ozmen said the company is holding open the option of launching Dream Chasers commercially on other rockets if demand develops. [emphasis mine]

The highlighted text is key. They are putting ULA on notice. Deliver at a competitive price, and on time, or we will exercise our option to go elsewhere.

At the same time, this really isn’t news. The company picked ULA for its first two Dream Chaser cargo flights back in 2017.

Meanwhile, I would like to see some concrete progress from Sierra Nevada. They got their cargo development contract from NASA in January 2016, almost four years ago, and since then not much has seemed to happen.

Pioneer cover

From the press release: From the moment he is handed a possibility of making the first alien contact, Saunders Maxwell decides he will do it, even if doing so takes him through hell and back.

Unfortunately, that is exactly where that journey takes him.

The vision that Zimmerman paints of vibrant human colonies on the Moon, Mars, the asteroids, and beyond, indomitably fighting the harsh lifeless environment of space to build new societies, captures perfectly the emerging space race we see today.

He also captures in Pioneer the heart of the human spirit, willing to push forward no matter the odds, no matter the cost. It is that spirit that will make the exploration of the heavens possible, forever, into the never-ending future.

Available everywhere for $3.99 (before discount) at amazon, Barnes & Noble, all ebook vendors, or direct from the ebook publisher, ebookit. And if you buy it from ebookit you don't support the big tech companies and I get a bigger cut much sooner.


  • Richard M

    Interestingly, Dream Chaser will be flying on Vulcan’s second certifying flight. It sounds like Tory Bruno offered them a cut rate. You wonder just how much more this deal would have cost if SpaceX did not exist?

    Competition: It can be a beautiful thing.

    It’s an important win for ULA, diversifying their Vulcan launch manifest in a significant way. Since it’s unlikely to get much in the way of commercial payloads, they might as well diversify between federal agencies.

  • Richard M

    The other interesting thing is that this means that in Commercial Resupply Services next phase, there will now be three different cargo vehicles, launched on three different launchers, each operated by a different company:

    1. Dragon launched on Falcon 9 (SpaceX)
    2. Cygnus launched on Antares (NGIS)
    3. Dream Chaser launched on Vulcan (ULA)

  • Wodun

    Vulcan’s protracted development time helps out with SNCs protracted development time.

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