Space News
space history and artifacts articles

Messages
space history discussion forums

Sightings
worldwide astronaut appearances

Resources
selected space history documents

Websites
related space history websites

  collectSPACE: Messages
  Commercial Space - Military Space
  [Discuss] Sierra Nevada Corp.'s Dream Chaser

Post New Topic  Post A Reply
profile | register | preferences | faq | search

next newest topic | next oldest topic
Author Topic:   [Discuss] Sierra Nevada Corp.'s Dream Chaser
Robert Pearlman
Editor

Posts: 30507
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 08-03-2012 09:56 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Editor's note: In an effort to keep the topic CCDev: Sierra Nevada Corp. (Dream Chaser) focused on status updates, reader's feedback and opinions are directed to this thread.

Please use this topic to discuss Sierra Nevada Corp's development of its Dream Chaser lifting-body vehicle as a part of NASA's Commercial Crew Development (CCDev) program.

Jay Chladek
Member

Posts: 2270
From: Bellevue, NE, USA
Registered: Aug 2007

posted 08-03-2012 10:05 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jay Chladek   Click Here to Email Jay Chladek     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
All things considered, I was probably pulling for SNC the most, given that they are going with a design that probably has the highest risk, yet the capability for the highest reward in fast turnaround with it being potentially fully reuseable and capable of land landings on a runway. I just wish they could potentially have gotten more funding compared to the other two contractors.

If they are less than a year away from approach and landing tests, do they plan to conduct those with a manned vehicle, or will it be an RPV version of the craft?

Robert Pearlman
Editor

Posts: 30507
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 08-03-2012 10:11 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
According to the information released by NASA today, the only milestone under SNC's CCiCap award that involves flight testing uses an engineering test article.

Robert Pearlman
Editor

Posts: 30507
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 01-30-2013 03:08 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Space.com reports that the Dream Chaser is slated to fly on its own for the first time in the next six to eight weeks, a key drop-test milestone in the vehicle's quest to fly astronauts on roundtrip space missions.
The Dream Chaser spacecraft, built by aerospace firm Sierra Nevada Corp., will be released by a carrier helicopter at an altitude of 12,000 feet (3,657 meters) or so, then fly back and land autonomously on a runway at NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center in California.

The unmanned 30-second drop test will kick off a series of trials that culminate in trips to low-Earth orbit and back, potentially paving the way for contracted, crew-carrying flights to the International Space Station for NASA, company officials said during a press conference today (Jan. 30).

Lou Chinal
Member

Posts: 1062
From: Staten Island, NY
Registered: Jun 2007

posted 02-02-2013 07:31 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Lou Chinal   Click Here to Email Lou Chinal     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Jay Chladek:
All things considered, I was probably pulling for SNC the most...
I have to agree with you Jay.

I've done some calculations and have concluded that a small solid rocket could lift "Dream Chaser" high enough and with enough speed to make an approach to a runway. Assuming there is a runway next the launch pad. You would have to establish winds at launch for energy management.

Now the question is would you want to reenter with that engine?

Jay Chladek
Member

Posts: 2270
From: Bellevue, NE, USA
Registered: Aug 2007

posted 02-02-2013 10:33 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jay Chladek   Click Here to Email Jay Chladek     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
A solid motor for aborts likely won't be needed since the Dreamchaser will have a pair of OMS type motors onboard. Plus, the abort modes for the craft won't be as potentially nasty for the bird on an Atlas V rocket according to a couple of the Dreamchaser guys I talked with at STS-135 in 2011. Reason being, the Atlas being a liquid rocket can be shut down during an abort so the rockets needed to get the craft free don't require as much thrust. With the Orion Ares 1 stack (and indeed with SLS) with solids under thrust, the ATK designed LAS system needs to be as powerful as it is the get the capsule far away from a potentially out of control solid ASAP (or at least far enough away from the solid for range safety to detonate it).

How the Dreamchaser would fare during recovery I would say is going to depend on its ditching characteristics. Shuttle was NOT a good craft to ditch in (thank goodness nobody ever had to put that to the test in real life), but the Dreamchaser being a lighter vehicle (although one with still a rather high wing loading) might do better. Still, a runway landing would be a much better prospect for the crew to survive such a worst case scenario.

Lou Chinal
Member

Posts: 1062
From: Staten Island, NY
Registered: Jun 2007

posted 02-03-2013 12:02 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Lou Chinal   Click Here to Email Lou Chinal     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Congress may insist on such a safety factor.

Jay Chladek
Member

Posts: 2270
From: Bellevue, NE, USA
Registered: Aug 2007

posted 02-05-2013 10:43 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jay Chladek   Click Here to Email Jay Chladek     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Lou Chinal:
Congress may insist on such a safety factor.

I doubt Congress will have much say in the matter either way. Sure, they might dictate to NASA to ensure that the commercial services contractor has done as much as possible with a specific configuration for safety. But NASA would still have to make the final determination and with NASA, it will likely come down to running the numbers and statistical analysis to determine if such an abort motor system for Dreamchaser would indeed be an asset or a liability.

Dreamchaser will have its own onboard OMS motors and they will likely provide more thrust than what the shuttle's did (because shuttle was a much heavier craft). Man rating the Atlas V might also involve setting up the upper stage for use as an abort motor as well (but I am just guessing there).

Lou Chinal
Member

Posts: 1062
From: Staten Island, NY
Registered: Jun 2007

posted 02-06-2013 07:27 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Lou Chinal   Click Here to Email Lou Chinal     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
After everything is said and done, Congress is going to have put up the money.

dabolton
Member

Posts: 306
From: Minooka IL, US
Registered: Jan 2009

posted 05-23-2013 04:54 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for dabolton   Click Here to Email dabolton     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Love the fuzzy dice in the Dream Chaser engineering test article's cockpit.

Jay Chladek
Member

Posts: 2270
From: Bellevue, NE, USA
Registered: Aug 2007

posted 06-13-2013 12:03 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jay Chladek   Click Here to Email Jay Chladek     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by dabolton:
Love the fuzzy dice in the Dream Chaser engineering test article's cockpit.

Yup, I just noticed that when I downloaded the high resolution images from NASA's image gallery. Rather cute I think.

By the way, anyone else notice that Dream Chaser (and the shuttle for that matter) seem to have the same color scheme as dice (and for that matter, so did the Saturns)? There are some interesting parallels and ironies there when you think about it.

Aeropix
Member

Posts: 19
From: Houston
Registered: Apr 2010

posted 06-16-2013 04:11 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Aeropix   Click Here to Email Aeropix     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Of all the COTS companies, SNC seems most quiet about flight schedules, it's been very hard to find any current / recent news about them anywhere on the web. Does anybody know and can post their potential schedule for:
  1. Approach / Landing tests
  2. First Atlas V flight of test article
  3. First atmospheric flight of manned vehicle
  4. First orbital flight of manned vehicle
Is there a good place online to get new news from them?

Is it just my impatience or does their development schedule seem ridiculously slow? I mean, the Space Shuttle announced in 1972 flew its ALT just 5 years later and all-up launch only 9 years later.

SNC on the other hand announced the design for the vehicle in 2004 and hasn't even done the first ALT 9 years later, for a vehicle based on the HL20 while the shuttle was a clean sheet design first tested in 5 years?

Makes me sad to see how little we can accomplish in America these days. Twice the money for half the success. Any thoughts?

issman1
Member

Posts: 912
From: UK
Registered: Apr 2005

posted 06-16-2013 12:00 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for issman1     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
It all comes down to having sufficient financial resources.

What has clearly impeded progress is whomsoever controls the purse strings. It seems commercial crew development has fast fallen out of favour with some of your elected representatives. Rumours abound that NASA will be forced to select only a single provider.

Dream Chaser's shuttle heritage may not be enough, compared to the simplicity of Dragon Rider or CST-100.

SkyMan1958
Member

Posts: 478
From: CA.
Registered: Jan 2011

posted 06-16-2013 12:05 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for SkyMan1958   Click Here to Email SkyMan1958     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Let's not forget that SNC is also getting only half the amount of money that Boeing and SpaceX are getting from NASA.

Robert Pearlman
Editor

Posts: 30507
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 06-16-2013 01:23 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
SNC delivered its engineering test article (ETA) to Dryden in May, and is now preparing it for a series of tow, captive-carry and free-flight tests to be conducted this year.
A truck will tow the craft down a runway to validate performance of the nose strut, brakes and tires. The captive-carry flights will further examine the loads it will encounter during flight as it is carried by an Erickson Skycrane helicopter. The free flight later this year will test Dream Chaser's aerodynamics through landing.
Specific dates for these tests have not been released, in part because they are driven by the pace of work and the outcome of each test.

SNC is currently building its second Dream Chaser, a flight test vehicle (FTV) for additional drop tests, which will be followed by its first orbital vehicle (OV) to launch on an Atlas V in the 2015-16 timeframe.

As with the other CCDev competitors, Dream Chaser is slated to be ready for its first flight to the International Space Station in 2017.

It should be noted that NASA's agreement with the commercial spacecraft providers does not require public disclosure, and for now at least, the space agency is letting the companies decide how much (or how little) advance information is being released. But from this journalist's perspective, SNC has been as, or in some cases, more open about its development plans than Boeing and SpaceX.

GACspaceguy
Member

Posts: 1641
From: Guyton, GA
Registered: Jan 2006

posted 06-16-2013 05:09 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for GACspaceguy   Click Here to Email GACspaceguy     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Aeropix:
SNC on the other hand announced the design for the vehicle in 2004 and hasn't even done the first ALT 9 years later, for a vehicle based on the HL20 while the shuttle was a clean sheet design first tested in 5 years?
Not that bad in my books. Using my own background in Business Aviation, Honda Jet had first flight in December of 2003 and is still chasing certification which is now scheduled for 2014. Honda has put a lot of money in their program and it has still taken 10 years for them as a new entry in the field.

Aeropix
Member

Posts: 19
From: Houston
Registered: Apr 2010

posted 06-18-2013 02:11 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Aeropix   Click Here to Email Aeropix     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thanks for the updates and analysis.

328KF
Member

Posts: 920
From:
Registered: Apr 2008

posted 06-18-2013 12:19 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for 328KF   Click Here to Email 328KF     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I think SNC is the real sleeper in this competition and will rapidly pick up momentum and favor once they start their flight test program. There is a great desire to have a vehicle capable of a gentle, low-G re-entry to return more fragile equipment and samples from ISS, as well as an easier ride for a sick or incapacitated crewmember.

There is probably a little cultural preference for a piloted landing to a runway, since NASA has nearly perfected that over the last 30 years. Of course, Orion is different, and is designed for a completely different mission.

SNC has stacked the deck by hiring several former shuttle pilot types and they are likely looking to fly again, so I don't think they'd go to work for a runner-up operation. It seems there is a perception that SpaceX is in the lead due largely to Dragon's successful cargo runs, but as is often the case in government funded projects, particularly in aerospace, the first one out of the gate isn't always the first across the finish line.

Robert Pearlman
Editor

Posts: 30507
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 06-18-2013 12:46 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by 328KF:
SNC has stacked the deck by hiring several former shuttle pilot types...
SNC, Boeing and SpaceX have all hired former space shuttle commanders, some publicly acknowledged, some not yet.

328KF
Member

Posts: 920
From:
Registered: Apr 2008

posted 06-18-2013 04:59 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for 328KF   Click Here to Email 328KF     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Yes, of course, but my point was that those astronauts would not have taken the job if they didn't think Dream Chaser had a chance.

These guys are not being hired just for their flying skills and technical knowledge. They are being hired for their contacts within NASA and potential influence over the selection. Nobody wants or needs any "token astronauts" at this critical stage.

I'll bet there is one group who thinks the only dignified way to return from space is by flying to a runway. Then there's another group who doesn't care how they get into space or back, so long as they get there.

Jay Chladek
Member

Posts: 2270
From: Bellevue, NE, USA
Registered: Aug 2007

posted 08-22-2013 10:56 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jay Chladek   Click Here to Email Jay Chladek     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Aeropix:
...for a vehicle based on the HL20
Well, one thing you have to remember about HL-20 is it was only maybe slightly above a paper project. Yes, the shape was derived from the Soviet Spiral program and it did have some wind tunnel testing work done with it. But all in all, the project wasn't that much more than a study in an attempt to try and perhaps sell the project to get more funds. The full size mockup of the HL-20 was built by University students at two schools in North Carolina on a volunteer/class credit basis.

As I've said before many times, having a shape and wind tunnel data as a basis for a spacecraft is only the start. Having that doesn't mean that you instantly have the makings of a spacecraft as now you have to build it and fill it with operational hardware. Things have to be tested to ensure no problems crop up. Even if off the shelf systems are used, they might be utilized in ways not originally intended, so those also have to be tested.

The shuttle utilized all the resources provided by NASA and the USAF as well as the contractor workforce to get it off the ground at a time when bureaucratic red tape wasn't as prevalent. Things got done in a relatively quick fashion. Although part of the problem that shuttle had was cost savings in the development stage caused costs to balloon during the operational stage. These days a private company, be it SNC (or SpaceX) is trying to see if it can make the system cost effective operationally IN ADDITION to controlling development costs. That in itself tends to stretch out the development time as the money has to be spent a bit more frugally since NASA isn't supplying as much of it (in a relative fashion) as they did during the 1970s.

cspg
Member

Posts: 4810
From: Geneva, Switzerland
Registered: May 2006

posted 01-08-2014 02:56 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for cspg   Click Here to Email cspg     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
In a press conference today (Jan. 8), Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) announced the global expansion of the Dream Chaser Space System through recently finalized cooperative understandings with the European Space Agency (ESA) and the German Aerospace Center (DLR).
ESA and DLR? Well, let's bring back Hermes!

Robert Pearlman
Editor

Posts: 30507
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 01-08-2014 03:39 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
SNC's talking points about the agreement specifically mentions Hermes:
Europe, its agencies and companies have a long history and interest in re-entry systems, and in particular lifting body spacecraft designs similar to the Dream Chaser, which were advanced in programs such as Hermes, X-38, CRV, and are being applied to the Intermediate eXperimental Vehicle (IXV) flight demonstrator...

SkyMan1958
Member

Posts: 478
From: CA.
Registered: Jan 2011

posted 01-08-2014 06:24 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for SkyMan1958   Click Here to Email SkyMan1958     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I'm not sure whether the addition of ESA and DLR will either increase or decrease Sierra Nevada's chances to get further federal funding for the Dreamchaser. I can easily see how it would increase its chances, and I can easily see how it would decrease its chances. It will be interesting to see what the end result will be.

cspg
Member

Posts: 4810
From: Geneva, Switzerland
Registered: May 2006

posted 01-09-2014 09:42 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for cspg   Click Here to Email cspg     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Well, ATK and Astrium with their Liberty launcher didn't work. Whether it's because a foreign company was associated with the project is unknown to me.

Robert Pearlman
Editor

Posts: 30507
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 01-21-2014 06:04 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
NASA release
Sierra Nevada Corporation Announces Dream Chaser Expansion along Florida's Space Coast

Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) of Sparks, Nev., will announce expansion plans for its Dream Chaser Space System program in a news conference Thursday, Jan. 23, at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The announcement will be carried live on NASA Television and the agency's website at 3 p.m. EST.

SNC officials will discuss the company’s plans for expansion in the Kennedy area and the current status of the Dream Chaser program. Others will join the briefing to discuss how these developments assist in creating jobs and investment opportunities on the Space Coast that support Kennedy's transformation into a multi-user spaceport.

Mark Sirangelo, corporate vice president and head of SNC’s Space Systems, will make the announcements and be joined by:

  • Bob Cabana, Kennedy Space Center director
  • Michael Gass, United Launch Alliance president and CEO
  • Frank DiBello, Space Florida president and CEO
  • Larry Price, Lockheed Martin Space Systems deputy program manager for NASA's Orion spacecraft
  • Steve Lindsey, Sierra Nevada Corporation Dream Chaser program manager

Robert Pearlman
Editor

Posts: 30507
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 01-23-2014 02:36 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) announces that it has confirmed that the first orbital flight of its Dream Chaser Space System will occur on November 1, 2016. Dream Chaser will be brought to orbit on a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket that is being built in Decatur, Alabama and will launch from Cape Canaveral, Florida.
Read more in the full release: SNC Announces First Orbital Flight of Dream Chaser Company Outlines Plans for its Flight Operations

dabolton
Member

Posts: 306
From: Minooka IL, US
Registered: Jan 2009

posted 01-23-2014 04:09 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for dabolton   Click Here to Email dabolton     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Will the Dream Chaser require the same abort scenarios as shuttle? RTLS, and overseas landing sites, etc?

Robert Pearlman
Editor

Posts: 30507
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 01-24-2014 05:56 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
To my knowledge, Sierra Nevada hasn't released much by way of specific abort mode details, but the Dream Chaser's design and smaller size would likely allow for less constraints on a contingency landing.

In the case of an Atlas rocket failure (in flight or on the pad), the Dream Chaser would use its engines to separate from the launch vehicle and then glide to landing on any available conventional runway.

SkyMan1958
Member

Posts: 478
From: CA.
Registered: Jan 2011

posted 01-26-2014 06:03 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for SkyMan1958   Click Here to Email SkyMan1958     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I saw an interesting drawing recently showing the scale differential between the Dream Chaser and the Shuttle...

Lou Chinal
Member

Posts: 1062
From: Staten Island, NY
Registered: Jun 2007

posted 02-13-2014 05:39 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Lou Chinal   Click Here to Email Lou Chinal     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I think it's safe to say the Dream Chaser will be influenced by the shuttle's abort scenarios.

Thanks for posting the drawing SkyMan1958.

Jay Chladek
Member

Posts: 2270
From: Bellevue, NE, USA
Registered: Aug 2007

posted 02-19-2014 11:59 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jay Chladek   Click Here to Email Jay Chladek     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Some influence, yes. But the Shuttle's primary limit in its abort scenarios was the orbiter could not come off the tank until after the SRBs had been jettisoned. Then it was a matter of getting this rather large and heavy stack to pitch around, negate all its forward momentum intended for a flight into space, stop, accelerate back to flying speed the other direction and begin the flight back to KSC before cutting the ET.

Dream Chaser's design seems able to cut from the booster much sooner in a close to the launch pad abort than what the shuttle could. If it is a high inclination launch ascent to the ISS, I have to wonder if it might be better to have some abort landing sites along the east coast of the USA to the north as opposed to doing a direct 180 back to KSC. At least with the engines onboard the Dream Chaser, they can provide a bit more thrust due to the craft's relatively small size compared to the shuttle's OMS motors and the mass they had to move.

Lou Chinal
Member

Posts: 1062
From: Staten Island, NY
Registered: Jun 2007

posted 08-04-2014 01:17 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Lou Chinal   Click Here to Email Lou Chinal     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
It's intuitively obvious to the casual observer that with less mass to accelerate the entire abort process will be simpler.

Robert Pearlman
Editor

Posts: 30507
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 09-24-2014 11:15 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Sierra Nevada Corp.'s Space Systems division on Wednesday (Sept. 24) laid off about 90 employees from its Dream Chaser program after losing its bid for NASA's commercial crew program, The Denver Post reports.
Space Systems chief Mark Sirangelo said many of those let go had been hired in anticipation of the NASA contract.

"We did do a workforce reduction, but it was a relatively minor one compared to what it might have been," he said.

The layoffs represent a 9.4 percent reduction in Space Systems' Colorado workforce, he said.

...Sirangelo said he could not comment on how this layoffs would affect the launch plans. He did say the Dream Chaser program will continue, and Space Systems intends to bid on upcoming NASA contracts.

All times are CT (US)

next newest topic | next oldest topic

Administrative Options: Close Topic | Archive/Move | Delete Topic
Post New Topic  Post A Reply
Hop to:

Contact Us | The Source for Space History & Artifacts

Copyright 1999-2014 collectSPACE.com All rights reserved.


Ultimate Bulletin Board 5.47a





advertisement