NASA announces launch plans for new Dream Chaser spaceplane

Science

UPI News 04 May, 2021 - 11:51am 12 views

Once it docks and delivers cargo, Dream Chaser will return to the space center's former space shuttle landing strip.

"When we first launch next year, 2022, at the end of that mission, we plan to come back and land here at this very runway," Kavandi said.

She was joined on the tarmac by Kennedy Space Center director Bob Cabana and Frank DiBello, executive director of Space Florida, the state's development agency for space, which manages the landing facility.

Cabana said that Sierra Nevada's plans for Kennedy are further evidence that the space center is truly a multi-user, commercial spaceport rather than just a NASA facility.

Sierra Nevada planned to tour the space center and adjacent Cape Canaveral Space Force Station on Tuesday and Wednesday to search for a suitable building to process Dream Chaser between launches, Kavandi said.

The company also plans to hire dozens of people in the region for processing and other possible engineering functions, she said.

Sierra Nevada is one of a growing number of commercial space companies vying for NASA business. The company lost a competition in 2014 to SpaceX and Boeing to deliver astronauts to the space station using Dream Chaser.

SpaceX delivered on its astronaut contract in 2020 with the Crew Dragon capsule, while Boeing still plans a test flight of the Starliner capsule later this year.

But Sierra Nevada has won over $2 billion in NASA contracts to develop Dream Chaser as a reusable cargo vessel. The company plans at least seven cargo trips for NASA.

At just 30 feet long, the spacecraft is only one-quarter the size of the space shuttle.

The spaceplane's ability to land at the space center -- instead of splashing down at sea like SpaceX's cargo capsule -- would result in a faster return of science and materials from the space station, according to NASA and Sierra Nevada.

Dream Chaser would return to Earth under its own power. Since it doesn't carry people, no test flights beyond short drops from aircraft completed in 2013 and 2017 are required.

The test flights were done with prototypes. The spacecraft has yet to launch as intended on a rocket sent into space. That rocket will be ULA's new Vulcan Centaur, which is being developed.

Sierra Nevada executives have said they believe Dream Chaser can carry people someday, and that it would be more appealing to space tourists. That's because it resembles a plane and doesn't land with a jolt under parachutes like a space capsule.

Sierra Nevada plans to use the craft to launch and build its own orbiting habitat in space before NASA retires the space station around 2028.

The company's orbiting space station has no name yet, but it would consist of inflatable sections connected by hardware, Kavandi said during a press conference in March.

"We plan to launch our vehicles to a platform with inflatable modules where both uncrewed and crewed vehicles take people and cargo ... and then return safely to Earth," Kavandi said.

Sierra Nevada has held numerous contracts for NASA and other space interests since it was founded in 1963.

The company has grown since Turkish American businesspeople, wife and husband Eren Ozmen and Fatih Ozmen, bought it in 1994. Eren Ozmen is chairwoman and president, while Fatih Ozmen is CEO.

Read full article at UPI News

Dream Chaser spaceplane approved to land at KSC

Florida Today 04 May, 2021 - 12:38pm

Under a contract with NASA, the plane is slated to launch atop United Launch Alliance’s Vulcan rocket and deliver cargo to the space station in 2022.

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The Dream Chaser spaceplane, which resembles a mini space shuttle, is officially approved to land at the shuttle’s old runway at Kennedy Space Center.

Officials, including KSC Center Director Bob Cabana, gathered at the Launch and Landing Facility operated by Space Florida with an inflatable mock-up to announce the FAA’s recent approval.

“I landed here last, I think, in 2001 and have great memories. I landed here all three times, so I love this place,” said former shuttle astronaut Janet Kavandi who is now executive vice president of Space Systems at Sierra Nevada Corp.  “This inflatable looks a lot like the real thing although the real thing is a bit bigger than that.”

The Dream Chaser is a reusable, space utility vehicle capable of transportation services to and from low-Earth orbit and is capable of a runway landing.

Under a contract with NASA, the plane is now slated to launch atop United Launch Alliance’s Vulcan rocket from KSC and deliver cargo to the International Space Station in 2022.  

FAA just approved Dream Chaser to land at the Launch and Landing Facility. Can’t wait for the real spacecraft to arrive next year! pic.twitter.com/jZG1eqx1N9

Kavandi said the company intends to fly humans on the Dream Chaser at some point.

“You will someday see this vehicle land on this runway and people walk right off of it, and that will be a wonderful day, she said.

The manufacturer of the plane, Sierra Nevada Corporation, recently created a separate space company, Sierra Space to accelerate progress and take advantage of the investment boom in commercial space.

The company is looking to expand in Brevard, which may include contracting out some additional engineering design and manufacturing but for now the focus is on spacecraft processing for the future flights.

“We’re actually here today to look for increased processing capability because we’re going to need some significant square footage to take care of the processing of these vehicles.”

She said they plan on hiring a significant number of people in the area to support that effort. 

© 2021 www.floridatoday.com. All rights reserved.

Dream Chaser spaceplane ready for shuttle-style landing at Kennedy Space Center next year

WKMG News 6 & ClickOrlando 04 May, 2021 - 10:56am

Sierra Nevada’s Corp. plans to use the Launch and Landing Facility, formerly known as the space shuttle runway, to put its Dream Chaser wheels down following spaceflights to and from the International Space Station and, eventually, a private space station built by Sierra Nevada Corp.

The cargo spacecraft is set to begin carrying supplies for NASA to and from the International Space Station next year under the agency’s commercial resupply services program. The Federal Aviation Administration has now given the tiny shuttle approval to land on the runway at KSC.

Dream Chaser is capable of landing on almost any FAA-licensed landing site that has a 10,000-foot runway or anywhere a commercial airliner could touch down.

On Tuesday, Florida’s spaceport authority Space Florida and Sierra Nevada held a news conference on the runway where the space shuttle last landed in 2011. Space Florida now manages the private runaway under its new title, the Launch and Landing Facility.

“The Dream Chaser is a first of what we hope are many different kinds of events space activities that are occurring,” Space Florida President Frank DiBello said. “We’re just looking forward to a very, very bright future.”

Dream Chaser will launch on United Launch Alliance’s new rocket, the Vulcan Centaur, from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station.

Copyright 2021 by WKMG ClickOrlando - All rights reserved.

Emilee is a digital journalist for News 6 and ClickOrlando.com, where she writes about space and Central Florida news. Previously, Emilee was a space writer and web editor for the Orlando Sentinel and a producer at the Naples Daily News.

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