Sierra Nevada has successfully completed wind tunnel tests a several scale models of their winged spacecraft Dream Chaser.


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The competition heats up: Sierra Nevada has successfully completed wind tunnel tests a several scale models of their winged spacecraft Dream Chaser.

It appears from these tests that the spacecraft’s design works better than expected during ascent and re-entry.

The article also gives a quick overview of the status of all three commercial companies, and from this it really looks to me as if Boeing is the least aggressive in pursuing its construction effort. This is merely an impression, and not to be taken too seriously, but it really does look like Boeing is playing the public relations game, doing as little work as possible while trying to garner the most publicity while waiting for the award of the contract.

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3 comments

  • Kelly Starks

    The opinion around here is that they have done a conservative NASA friendly design, in as NASA friendly (cut no corners) highests quality manor. And they are the most expensive which is a big plus for voter/congressional support.

    Dream Chasers a lot cheaper, and still built by reputable teams and high quality, but not as high so it costs significantly less. But the softer landing, more operationally flexible then the other two is a plus.

    SpaceX is the wild child spending ridiculously little, no experienced folk in the teams, no standard aerospace practices etc, and still kinda pricy; but huge political connections.

    Its a guess for everyone which way it will go.

  • Dick Eagleson

    The only voters who support the most expensive option are the ones employed in producing it. The rest of us wish you’d all go get real jobs.

    Also to be noted, the false conflation of cost and quality.

    I think you’ll find SpaceX has quite a few “experienced folk in the teams” including a few NASA veterans so ancient they actually worked there when the agency knew how to design and build stuff. That would exclude most anyone who has come aboard NASA in the last, say, three decades. Not surprising to me at all if SpaceX round-filed their resumes.

    Note: “no standard aerospace practices” = no bribing Congressmen to get cost-plus contracts with no hard performance requirements.

    :Huge political connections?” Surely you jest. I once called the local office of the Congresswoman who represents the district in which SpaceX’s Hawthorne, CA plant is located. The person who took my call seemed never to have heard of SpaceX despite it being one of the largest employers in the district.

  • Kelly Starks

    >..The only voters who support the most expensive option are the ones employed in producing it. ..

    Very very untrue. The vast bulk of public support for NASA has long been shown to be due to it spending money in the voters districts. Something like 90% of the folks who’d actually write to a congressman etc, are for the pork. No surprise why gov programs maximize pork. Its just worse for NASA, since unlike the mil or the huge welfare programs, their actual products gen very little interest.

    > … The rest of us wish you’d all go get real jobs…

    Don’t look at me dude, at the moment I’m doing Dream Chaser.
    ;)

    > Also to be noted, the false conflation of cost and quality.

    Yeah, lets just say when you say you can do things for 100 times cheaper then NASA and dozens of times cheaper then any commercials, people can pretty well expect their going to get a Trabant not a Caddy.

    >
    > I think you’ll find SpaceX has quite a few “experienced folk in the teams” including a few NASA veterans
    > so ancient they actually worked there when the agency knew how to design and build stuff.===

    Actually NASA never designed and built stuff, they ordered it from companies who did. Back in Von Brauns day they did excel at systems engineering, requirements analysis, traceability — all the plus side of paperwork [the major now “standard aerospace practices” that are why the – which are things engineering folks I know who toured SpaceX noted was seriously missing.

    Actually the low % of senior folks and expertice was long noted as a issue with SpaceX, as well as a high turn over rate of the prime folks. But as to teams.. compare that with SNC Dream Chaser Team

    Boeing Phantom Works – construction of some early[which?] test articles[12][dated info]
    Charles Stark Draper Laboratory – Guidance, Navigation and Control[12]
    Aerojet – reaction control system technology[12]
    University of Colorado – human-rating[12]
    AdamWorks – composites[12]
    MDA – systems engineering[12]
    Lockheed Martin – airframe construction and human rating of the spaceplane[44][45]

    And of course smaller groups like the Orbitek team I’m working on doing ECLSS, TCS, and possibly soon propulsion systems.

    >…Huge political connections?” Surely you jest. ..

    If you’ld noted here and other places. Musk has been very good about pouring money into the best hands.

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