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Dream Chaser first flight delayed to ’22

Officials from Sierra Nevada today revealed they have now delayed the first flight of their mini-reusable Dream Chaser shuttle Tenacity until ’22 rather than late this year.

They claim the cause of the delay is the Wuhan flu.

Sierra Nevada has not announced when in 2022 Dream Chaser will attempt to make its first flight, but Lindsey described how pandemic restrictions prevented engineers from being on site for structural testing of the cargo model. Instead, engineers remotely oversaw the tests from a mission control center in Colorado. While the workaround allowed testing to continue, it took three or four times as long as it should have, Lindsey said.

Other delays came from supplier shutdowns due to COVID-19 outbreaks. Technical challenges not related to the pandemic also caused problems, though Lindsey did not elaborate. “All of those things have conspired to move the date a little bit,” Lindsey said.

The first issue is a management decision by the company. I note that SpaceX does not create these kinds of restrictions, and has therefore not experienced any slowdown in its launches or Starship development. It also appears to be experiencing no significant issues with COVID-19 infections.

The second issue is also in a sense a management decision. Sierra Nevada is subcontracting a lot of its work, and thus is at the mercy of other companies. Once again, SpaceX made a decision years ago to do as much as possible in-house. Thus, they are at no one’s mercy, and can push forward even as others cower in fear.

Overall, the pace of development at Sierra Nevada has not been impressive, but then, much of their work is being done by others, such as Lockheed Martin.

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.

4 comments

  • jeff d

    Hello Mr Zimmerman, you are generous to place responsibility on the management at Sierra Nevada. I want to believe in Sierra Nevada; I like some of their efforts. They do have good engineers. Still, SpaceX is not waiting and the Chinese certainly will not wait. In that, I find hope. Boeing could upsize the X-37b by 2022 or even just re launch. So maybe sometime in 2022 Sierra Nevada will launch and the world will look upon it as if some third world person builds an airplane from parts found in an automobile junkyard. Obsolete, quaint, pathetic. Sierra Nevada is on the US All Star team; sad if that is the best we can do.

  • D. Messier

    They revealed this in November press conference.

  • Mitch S.

    I suppose Sierra Nevada has to work within budget constraints… but what’s going on with Blue Origin?
    Is 2021 going to be a breakout year, or will there be another decade of nice presentations and slow, incremental progress?

  • janyuary

    They are dealing with business climate where for just about everyone around them, employees’ cooperation is extorted from them: go along with it or be fired because the government will fine this business. Yes commerce has slowed down considerably. Employees who are forced to submit to this or lose employment, even though they may know or suspect it’s a bogeyman, there are those who nonetheless resent folks who can defy this tyranny and remain solvent.

    Of course C19 restrictions have slowed things down, and subcontractors suffer for it.
    I will be glad when men and women come to their senses and see through this ruse of C19 to squelch enterprise, worldwide.

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