Dream Chaser into orbit in 2016

The mission of Dream Chaser could finally get close to the final stages, after more than a decade of development and almost 300 flight simulations with the engines on the ground. In October of 2013 a test flight was made but failed on the runway. The engineers at Sierra Nevada Corporation have in mind to improve the technology of the spacecraft and in two years there will be the real test of orbital flight.




It is getting closer and closer to the return of human spaceflight to the United States. After months of tests, some of which failed, and years and years of planning, Sierra Nevada Corporation and NASA have announced the first test for the orbital Dream Chaser spacecraft which will take place November 1st of 2016. The leaders of the aerospace company announced that the launch will be made with an Atlas V rocket, based on the Prototype “M2 -F2” and “HL -20”, developed by NASA in the ‘60s. The vehicle will carry out pre -and post- flight and land at the Kennedy Space Center Shuttle Landing Facility at NASA in Florida. This first mission will not have crew on board and will be remotely controlled from Earth.

Dream Chaser is a mini -shuttle flight to suborbital and orbital vertical-takeoff of nearly 9 feet long with a wingspan of 7 meters and a total weight of 11,340 kg. The probe is powered by a pair of hybrids fuels of nitrogen oxide and Hydroxyl-terminated polybutadiene (HTPB), non-toxic fuels chosen for safety. The entire system can also be used independently if needed, as will occur in 2016 for the test. Dream Chaser, which can carry up to seven passengers in the LEO (low earth orbit, where there is also the International Space Station), is a private spacecraft that was born from the competition COTS (Commercial Orbital Transportation Services) launched by NASA to push companies towards the space industry for commercial services.



The HL-20 mock-up in front of Langley’s hangar.

Credit: NASA


The spacecraft is added to the duo of Cygnus, the Orbital Sciences, and Dragon, the Space X, but, unlike the latter, it was designed from the start to be able to bring even flights with astronauts inside(at least since 2017). This is a feature that was missing from the time of the Member Unit of the Space Shuttle. The first test of the Dream Chaser, in October, 2013, it went relatively well in almost all stages, even though it ended with a crash landing on the runway that has ruined the shuttle. The vehicle had been transported in the air with a helicopter.

The flights of 2017 will be the first manned rocket to be carried out with an Atlas V. The Sierra Nevada Company announced, last week, that they have completed their final phase for the program of commercial flights with crew of NASA’s Commercial Crew Capability (Integrated CCiCap), which is the certification audit plan for the entire mission Space Dream Chaser System. They have delivered nearly 6,000 pages of technical documentation on the strategy, verification and validation of Dream Chaser and its integration with the Atlas V launch vehicle.

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