Dream Chaser gets set for its next reality check

Image: Dream Chaser
Technicians at an SNC facility in Colorado inspect the Dream Chaser engineering test article, or ETA, which is due to be put through atmospheric flight tests. (Credit: Sierra Nevada Corporation)

After years of postponements, Sierra Nevada Corp. is planning to deliver a rebuilt test prototype of its Dream Chaser mini-space shuttle to NASA for testing in the August time frame, a company executive said today.

Mark Sirangelo, corporate vice president for SNC Space Systems, also said the company has just satisfied the first milestone in its contract with NASA to develop the Dream Chaser as a cargo transport for the International Space Station.

Sirangelo provided an update on the Dream Chaser at the Space Frontier Foundation’s NewSpace 2016 conference in Seattle.

In January, NASA gave the nod to SNC as well as to SpaceX and Orbital ATK to service the station during the second phase of its Cargo Resupply Services program, also known as CRS-2. Unlike SpaceX’s Dragon capsule and Orbital’s Cygnus craft, SNC’s Dream Chaser has yet to fly.

SNC Space Systems’ facility in Louisville, Colo., is the development center for the winged craft, which looks like a scaled-down space shuttle. The project is just one line of business for Nevada-based Sierra Nevada Corp., which is a significant defense contractor and a key player in Turkey’s TRjet aircraft development project.

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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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