By Jennifer Rey
Sparks-based Sierra Nevada Corp announced last month that its Dream Chaser spacecraft has received production approval from NASA.
According to the company, the spacecraft passed a milestone upon completion of Integration Review 4 (IR4) demonstrating NASA’s confidence in the Dream Chaser’s design.
The Dream Chaser spacecraft is a reusable, multi-mission space utility vehicle. It is capable of transportation services to and from low-Earth orbit, where the International Space Station resides and is the only commercial vehicle capable of a runway landing.
The Dream Chaser Cargo System was selected by NASA to provide cargo delivery and disposal services to the space station under the Commercial Resupply Services 2 (CRS-2) contract. All Dream Chaser CRS-2 cargo missions are planned to land at Kennedy Space Center’s Shuttle Landing Facility.
“We are one step closer to the Dream Chaser spacecraft’s first orbital flight. This comprehensive review approved moving the Dream Chaser program into the production phase so we can get Dream Chaser to market as a critical space station resupply spacecraft as soon as possible,” said Fatih Ozmen, CEO of SNC. “IR4 was a series of reviews, documentation, and data deliverables that are the culmination of many years of design work, analysis, and development testing.”
A current model of the Dream Chaser has foldable wings, making it compact enough to fit in the payload compartment of a rocket. Once the craft reaches its destination in space, the Dream Chaser will dock in the ISS and transfer supply.
The spacecraft delivers approximately 12,00 pounds of pressurized and unpressurized cargo and can return about 4,000 pounds of cargo with a gentle runway landing.
On each mission, the spacecraft also provides approximately 7,400 pounds of disposal capability via the cargo module, which burns up in the atmosphere after separation from the Dream Chaser winged vehicle. Cargo resupply missions are set to begin during the year 2020.