Sierra Nevada Corporation delivers Dream Chaser for testing

March 14, 2017


The test campaign will help SNC validate the aerodynamic properties, flight software and control system performance of the Dream Chaser. All of this is in preparation for regularly delivering contracted cargo for NASA beginning in 2019.


As can be seen in photos, the Dream Chaser is remarkably smaller and more compact that the retired Space Shuttle. It can be towed behind a regular freight truck on a flatbed, and is approximately 30 feet in length in comparison to the Space Shuttle’s 122 feet.


The data that SNC gathers from this test campaign will guide the final design of the Dream Chaser, which is scheduled to fly around six cargo delivery missions to and from the International Space Station by 2024. The spacecraft will be able to land glider-style on Earth, like the shuttle, and bring back science experiments and other items from the station. However its reaction control system thrusters are slated to burn ethanol-based fuel, which is not an explosively volatile material, nor toxic like hydrazine, allowing the Dream Chaser to be handled immediately after landing, unlike the Space Shuttle.


“Few would have imagined back in 2010 when President Barack Obama pledged that NASA would work ‘with a growing array of private companies competing to make getting to space easier and more affordable,’ that less than six years later we’d be able to say commercial carriers have transported 35,000 pounds of space cargo (and counting!) to the International Space Station,” said NASA Administrator Charles Bolden, “or that we’d be so firmly on track to return launches of American astronauts to the ISS from American soil on American commercial carriers. But that is exactly what is happening.”


As fellow simulation engineers and users of FEMAP, our engineers at Applied CAx wish SNC all the best in their testing phase because as our principal engineer always says, “validation is gold.”


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