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.
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.
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