Stratolaunch Teams With SNC for a Dream Chaser Mini-Me

A press release from Sierra Nevada Corporation issued in advance of a presentation at the International Astronautical Congress suggests a somewhat diminished version of its Dream Chaser space plane may have a future irrespective of what happens with the protest the company has lodged regarding NASA’s Commercial Crew CCtCap award.

SNC Press Release:

SPARKS, Nev. (Sept. 30, 2014) – Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) today announced a design for an integrated system for human spaceflight that can be launched to low Earth orbit (LEO) using Stratolaunch System’s air launch architecture and a scale version of SNC’s Dream Chaser® spacecraft.

The Dream Chaser is a reusable, lifting-body spacecraft capable of crewed or autonomous flight. Dream Chaser is the only lifting-body spacecraft capable of a runway landing, anywhere in the world. Stratolaunch Systems is a Paul G. Allen project dedicated to developing an air-launch system that will revolutionize space transportation by providing orbital access to space at lower costs, with greater safety and more flexibility.

As designed, the Dream Chaser-Stratolauncher human spaceflight system can carry a crew of three astronauts to LEO destinations. This versatile system can also be tailored for un-crewed space missions, including science missions, light cargo transportation or suborbital point-to-point transportation. The scaled crewed spacecraft design is based on SNC’s full-scale Dream Chaser vehicle which, for the past four years, has undergone development and flight tests as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.

Chuck Beames, president, Vulcan Aerospace Corp and executive director for Stratolaunch Systems said, “Combining a scaled version of SNC’s Dream Chaser with the Stratolaunch air launch system could provide a highly responsive capability with the potential to reach a variety of LEO destinations and return astronauts or payloads to a U.S. runway within 24 hours.”

“This relationship would expand our portfolio to include the highly flexible Stratolaunch system for launching reusable crewed or uncrewed spacecraft, or for rapid satellite constellation deployment,” said Mark Sirangelo, corporate vice president of SNC’s Space Systems.

In addition to supporting development of human spaceflight capability, SNC studied satellite launch options and mechanisms, as well as point-to-point transportation options using the Stratolaunch launch system with a Dream Chaser spacecraft derivative. The Stratolaunch system is uniquely designed to allow for maximum operational flexibility and payload delivery from several possible operational sites, while minimizing mission constraints such as range availability and weather.

SNC and Stratolaunch Systems will present more detailed information on Dream Chaser-Stratolauncher at the 65th International Astronautical Congress in Toronto, Canada, on October 1, 2014 at 9:45 am ET in Room 701B.

End Press Release

Note: The question and answer documents for the next round of NASA’s Commercial Resupply (CRS-2) cargo bids announced last week included inquiries over whether or not NASA would accept an unusually light return capacity which seems to be commensurate with that described in the press release. As the questions are not attributed to specific vendors, it is difficult to know who was asking, but it very well may have been SNC.

More to come after the presentation, including hopefully some new graphics

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2 Comments on "Stratolaunch Teams With SNC for a Dream Chaser Mini-Me"

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  1. Typo: in the last paragraph, the word is “commensurate”.

    • Stewart Money says:

      thanks again Keith. WordPress autocorrect picked up y original misspelling of the correct word, commensurate, and offered me “commiserate” instead. should have looked closer.

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