The competition heats up: Even as it prepares to complete the last milestone in its NASA contract for developing a manned version of Dream Chaser, Sierra Nevada has just completed the first milestone on its contract to build a cargo version of the reusable lifting body spaceplane.
Though Sierra Nevada did not win a contract to build the manned Dream Chaser, it did have a development contract with NASA that called for one more glide flight test, a test the company had until now decided not to fly because the cost would exceed the milestone payment. This changed however after they won a cargo contract, as the flight will provide important test data for building the cargo version.
Meanwhile, the company’s plan for building the cargo vehicle has been approved by NASA, thus rewarding them their first milestone on that contract, with the following schedule:
Per current schedule goals, Mr. Olson added the inaugural Dream Chaser cargo flight to ISS is aiming for a launch – on the United Launch Alliance Atlas V – as early as October 2019, or as late as April 2020. The company is aiming to build two Dream Chasers, able to fly a total of 30 times over a 10 year lifetime.
Once built and successfully flying, they also plan to move forward on developing the manned version, both for NASA and for others.
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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