Dream Chaser will join NASA’s space cargo fleet

Image: Dream Chaser
An artist’s conception shows Sierra Nevada’s uncrewed version of the Dream Chaser space glider in orbit with a cargo module attached at the back. (Credit: Sierra Nevada Corp.)

NASA says it will add Sierra Nevada Corp.’s Dream Chaser space glider to its cargo-carrying lineup of robotic spaceships as early as 2019. It’s likely to be the first winged vehicle to fly in orbit for NASA since the space shuttle fleet’s retirement in 2011.

“Within a few short years, the world will once again see a United States winged vehicle launch and return from space to a runway landing,” Mark Sirangelo, corporate vice president of Sierra Nevada Corp. Space Systems, said in a statement about the Dream Chaser’s selection.

During a televised briefing today, NASA officials said it also will continue to use SpaceX’s Dragon and Orbital ATK’s Cygnus capsules to resupply the International Space Station in the 2019-2024 time frame. By that time, the Dragon could well be capable of touching down on land.

The upgrades in SpaceX’s robotic Dragon, along with the addition of the Dream Chaser, are expected to bring new capabilities to NASA’s orbital delivery system.

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By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributor to GeekWire and Universe Today, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," past president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing.

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