Big news from the exciting world of space exploration folks! The Colorado-based trailblazer Sierra Space is just a whisker away from getting its Dream Chaser spaceplane ship-shape. This really nifty little spacecraft, it’s designed to shoot off into that great big ol’ void we call ‘space’, before soaring back home planet-side – kind of like NASA’s unforgettable Space Shuttle program used to do. Yep, you heard me right! Their ‘Dream Chaser,’ or as she’s lovingly known around here, “Tenacity,” happens now to be brushing up against pretty pivotal juncture in her journey–the latest? Prep work for some grueling ACEs with NASA and what could eventually evolve as an ISS supply gig.
Not unlike SpaceX’s Dragon capsule, the foremost mission of Dream Chaser is proofing its capability for hauling goods to the ISS on top of a rocket. Once back to Earth, this spacecraft won’t just be about hurtling downwards but controlled glide through our atmosphere using its wings. The destination? A specific runway with open arms and eager scientists.
Sierra Space has diligently worked on the finishing touches, with a particular focus on ensuring a pressurized compartment suitable for astronauts during their journeys to the ISS. Despite significant progress, there is still much work to be done before the Dream Chaser is ready for orbital flights.
The Dream Chaser spacecraft looks strikingly similar to the defunct Space Shuttle program, an homage to NASA’s rich spaceflight legacy. With a size about one-quarter that of NASA’s Space Shuttle, it aims for orbital capabilities and represents a significant advancement in commercial space travel. It can carry up to 12,000 pounds of cargo to the International Space Station (ISS) and can safely burn off undesired materials in Earth’s atmosphere.
However, the Dream Chaser needs to undergo rigorous testing in harsh environments at a NASA facility in Ohio before it can be launched, thus the launch route is still unknown. It will be a thorough analysis, evaluating the craft’s ability to withstand launch and spaceflight difficulties. The Dream Chaser will travel to the Space Coast for its first flight if testing is completed successfully.
By April of the following year, Sierra Space hopes to have completed the first unmanned test flight. This is an ambitious aim. The United Launch Alliance’s Vulcan rocket, which will launch the Dream Chaser into orbit, must be operational for this timeframe to succeed. “Tenacity” from Sierra Space, which blends state-of-the-art technology with a hint of nostalgia for the heyday of NASA’s space program, is set to launch a new era of space exploration.