Sierra Nevada introduces its cargo version of Dream Chaser

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The competition heats up: Sierra Nevada has unveiled a revised cargo version of Dream Chaser, competing for NASA next round of freighter contracts to ISS.

They have made a number of changes, but the most significant is the new folding wings, allowing the spacecraft to fit inside the fairings of most rocket systems. This also eliminates one of the concerns I have read about the previous design on whether its wings could have withstood exposure to the maximum atmospheric stresses experienced during launch.



  • fred k

    I wish the best for all commercial companies working hard to make a living while opening up space for all the eager customers (me, for one).

    However, I’ve got to say that DC isn’t terribly impressive, given that it’s design seems to magically change for each vaguely possible role it might fill. If we imagine that these enthusiastic press releases have a basis in reality, then that means that the existing design of DC isn’t actually real, because if it were, then changing to folding wings, or scaling down 50% would not be very easy/cheap/feasible AT ALL.

  • Edward

    Fred wrote, “I’ve got to say that DC isn’t terribly impressive, given that it’s design seems to magically change for each vaguely possible role it might fill.”

    These different roles each have different requirements. It is much easier to modify an existing design for different purposes than it is to restart from scratch. SpaceX chose to modify its existing Dragon cargo ship in order to add human crews, because it is easier than starting over. The Boeing 747 is a good example, as they have made six major variations to cover different customer needs.

    Boeing learned in the early days of the jet age that satisfying the customer’s needs is worth modifying a design. Doing so can make a company; not doing so can break a company. Read the article in this posting:

    “They wanted it wider. 4.5 inches wider. They wanted it to be 148.5 inches wide – wider even than the DC-8. This was gut check time. Everything that followed, all of Boeing’s commercial business over the next half-century hung in the balance.”

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