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  [Discuss] SNC's Dream Chaser Cargo System

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Author Topic:   [Discuss] SNC's Dream Chaser Cargo System
Robert Pearlman
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posted 03-17-2015 03:27 PM     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 CRS-2: Sierra Nevada Dream Chaser Cargo System focused on status updates, feedback and opinions are directed to this thread.

Please use this topic to discuss Sierra Nevada's Dream Chaser for commercial cargo resupply services.

SkyMan1958
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posted 01-14-2016 07:57 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for SkyMan1958   Click Here to Email SkyMan1958     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
While I am glad to see SNC added to the field, does anyone know when they expect their Dream Chaser cargo variant will actually (test) launch on rockets?

Robert Pearlman
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posted 01-14-2016 10:14 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Sierra Nevada said recently on Twitter that they were waiting for today's award before setting dates:
Still on for Atlas V launch, dependent on NASA CRS-2 award that will set dates and more. Stay tuned!

Robert Pearlman
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posted 01-15-2016 03:47 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Sierra Nevada held a press conference today to discuss their plans. I missed notice of it but AmericaSpace covered it:
Dream Chaser development will follow the example of Space Shuttle Columbia, STS-1. All the testing and certifications will happen on the ground and within the atmosphere, the first Dream Chaser launch will be an operational mission for NASA under the CRS-2 contract to the ISS. SNC will benefit from 135 shuttle flights and modern testing techniques to ready Dream Chaser for that first mission, and the company says Dream Chaser will be ready for that flight atop a ULA Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral, Fla. in the first half of 2019.

NASA does not require a first orbital flight test for the Dream Chaser cargo version before its first operational CRS-2 flight.

SkyMan1958
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posted 01-15-2016 05:29 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for SkyMan1958   Click Here to Email SkyMan1958     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The video states (twice) that the ship is capable of ISS reboost. I thought the propulsion system was in the stern of the vehicle, and in the video, the stern is pointed towards the ISS. Does anyone know how the Dream Chaser would reboost the ISS?

Secondly, one of the sales points is reusability. Does anyone know how many times the Dream Chaser will be reusable? Is NASA also going to do a one and done with the cargo Dream Chaser?

Robert Pearlman
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posted 01-15-2016 07:40 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
SNC says Dream Chaser can fly a minimum of 15 times (with 90 percent component reusability).

As for Dream Chaser's re-boost capability, I haven't seen any details released by SNC, but it could be they use the nose mounted RCS thrusters.

mercsim
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posted 01-16-2016 09:02 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for mercsim   Click Here to Email mercsim     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Nose RCS thrusters seem unlikely to be used for that. They would be a pretty small force for such a large mass. They would have to fire for a really long time and consume a lot of fuel that probably isn't carried in the RCS system.

alanh_7
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posted 01-17-2016 10:14 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for alanh_7   Click Here to Email alanh_7     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Speculation on my part, but perhaps there is some sort of re-boost system idea that is compatible with Dream Chaser and the ISS like NASA was considering for the Shuttle/Skylab program.

dom
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posted 01-17-2016 11:39 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for dom   Click Here to Email dom     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Interesting to see illustrations online of the Dream Chaser on top of an Ariane 5. Very fitting considering ESA's cancelled Hermes space shuttle would have flown on that booster. Is this a serious concept or just clever marketing?

Robert Pearlman
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posted 01-17-2016 12:09 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
In 2014, SNC entered partnerships with ESA and DLR to study uses of the Dream Chaser for European missions.

In 2015, together with OHB System AG, the company completed the initial Dream Chaser for European Utilization study co-funded by the Space Administration of the German Aerospace Center (DLR) and OHB.

So while there are no active programs to fly Dream Chaser on Ariane, the concept is more than just a marketing graphic.

dom
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posted 01-17-2016 01:35 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for dom   Click Here to Email dom     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Apparently SNC adopted the folding wings configuration at the suggestion of ESA so it could fly on Ariane 5.

Looks like the company is keeping its options open!

Robert Pearlman
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posted 01-25-2016 08:13 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
ESA will invest $36 million into the development of the Dream Chaser and build the first flight model of the vehicle's docking mechanism, SpaceNews reports.
...ESA will begin work building the first flight model of the International Berthing and Docking Mechanism (IBDM), which Sierra Nevada's Dream Chaser Cargo System will use to attach itself to the space station.

ESA said it would spend 33 million euros ($36 million) to complete the design of the IBDM and build a flight model for Dream Chaser's first cargo run. Future IBDMs will be financed by Sierra Nevada, ESA said.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 04-01-2016 09:03 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Huntsville, Alabama is "the only community" where Sierra Nevada is planning to land its Dream Chaser spaceship anytime soon, the Huntsville Times reports, citing company officials.
"There was a leap of faith on the Huntsville side that we would be a company that could get this vehicle built and start servicing the space station...," Sierra Nevada Vice President John Roth said Thursday. "Yes, we have been approached by other airports for ventures. We're not moving forward at this time with any of those. Right now, Huntsville is the only community we're moving forward with a (landing) license on."

A preliminary local study identified four hurdles to landing Dream Chaser at the Huntsville International Airport: required licenses for the craft and airport, environmental impact approval, Federal Aviation Administration approval of the landing path and possible runway damage.

"We've found nothing that would indicate those items are not satisfactory for going forward," Huntsville International Airport Director of Operations Kevin Vandeberg said.

Interesting wording, "the only community." I'm assuming Kennedy Space Center's Shuttle Landing Facility is not considered to be within a community for the sake of this distinction.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 08-30-2017 11:29 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
From Sierra Nevada on Facebook:
Thanks for watching our Facebook Live! More video of the Captive Carry event to come.

dom
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posted 08-31-2017 01:08 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for dom   Click Here to Email dom     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
That is the coolest spacecraft I've ever seen!

damnyankee36
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posted 09-01-2017 12:46 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for damnyankee36   Click Here to Email damnyankee36     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Aside from whatever reasons NASA thumbed down the crew version I think it's a cool little hotrod! It had my vote for selection, naive as it may have been.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 11-11-2017 08:24 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
From Sierra Nevada Corporation on Twitter:
SNC is proud to announce the Dream Chaser spacecraft had a successful free-flight test today at Edwards Air Force Base, with support of NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center. The Dream Chaser had a beautiful flight and landing!

On Monday, SNC will share more information, photos and video from today's Dream Chaser free-flight test at Edwards Air Force Base.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 11-13-2017 04:29 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Video of the test flight:

lspooz
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posted 11-13-2017 04:44 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for lspooz   Click Here to Email lspooz     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Great video, but wow, only ~55 seconds from drop to landing, and from only 8000 feet is a pretty short time to handle all that, much quicker than the ALT work with the shuttle.

SkyMan1958
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posted 11-13-2017 06:09 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for SkyMan1958   Click Here to Email SkyMan1958     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Huh, I had never before noticed the offset "rudder" just starboard of the centerline. Does anyone know if this is the actual configuration for the spacecraft, or something temporary for the drop tests?

Robert Pearlman
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posted 11-13-2017 07:46 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
If you're referring the small vertical stabilizer, then yes, it is part of the final configuration, as represented in this artist concept.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 04-18-2018 04:01 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
As Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) prepares its Dream Chaser cargo vehicle for a first launch on an Atlas 5 in late 2020, the company expects to make a decision by the end of this year on the rocket that will launch later missions, SpaceNews reports.
SNC announced a contract with ULA in July 2017 that covered two Dream Chaser launches, in 2020 and 2021. Both would use the Atlas 5 552, the largest version of the Atlas 5 with a five-meter payload fairing, five solid rocket boosters and a dual-engine Centaur upper stage.

However, Sirangelo said the company was looking at other options for launching the second and later Dream Chaser ISS cargo missions. "It's a quite interesting time in the launch business, where we see all the major launch companies coming out with a new launch system," he said. "We are looking at all of the launch systems."

...he noted that there are no requirements under its NASA contract that require those cargo missions to fly on U.S. vehicles, citing NASA's use of European and Japanese cargo vehicles to resupply the ISS. "We think it's certainly feasible," he said, adding that there was interest in launching Dream Chaser on vehicles outside the U.S.

Pearson
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posted 05-09-2018 10:52 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Pearson     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by damnyankee36:
Aside from whatever reasons NASA thumbed down the crew version I think it's a cool little hotrod!
I agree, I like the Dream Chaser and the way it looks. Don't know why NASA first shelved it when they was developing it, then shelve it again after passing it off to Sierra Nevada. Hopefully another space agency will utilize the crew variant.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 10-01-2018 11:58 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
From Sierra Nevada on Twitter:
Our full-scale pressurized Dream Chaser spacecraft mockup has arrived at our Louisville, Colorado facility! Our engineers are using this mockup to practice loading and unloading cargo into the vehicle in a variety of different ways including late loads on the launch pad.

SkyMan1958
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posted 10-01-2018 12:48 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for SkyMan1958   Click Here to Email SkyMan1958     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
This looks significantly smaller than I expected, particularly since at one point SNC was talking about carrying up to 7 astronauts.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 04-08-2019 03:18 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
From Sierra Nevada Corporation via Twitter:
SNC's Dream Chaser spacecraft looks a little different these days. We now have more white Thermal Protection System tiles than black. Aside from protecting Dream Chaser against high re-entry temps, they'll protect against an impact from space junk moving faster than 20,000 mph.

The materials that make up Dream Chaser spacecraft's Thermal Protection System tiles can survive temperatures up to 3,200F while maintaining the underlying structure temperature below 350F, protecting the spacecraft from re-entry heat.

Kite
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posted 04-08-2019 05:09 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Kite     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I'd have thought they might have worked that out with the Space Shuttle considering the problems they had with them.

oly
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posted 08-14-2019 07:07 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for oly   Click Here to Email oly     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The decision to launch Dream Chaser using Vulcan Centaur seems somehow to miss an opportunity to launch using a reusable first stage rocket. Dumping an expensive first stage rocket into the ocean for an ISS resupply mission using a reusable space plane seems to be one step backwards.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 08-14-2019 07:47 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
SNC said today they had considered SpaceX's and Blue Origin's offerings, but that Vulcan Centaur was the best choice for its program.

Reusability may have been a consideration, given Dream Chaser's own selling points, but there are other factors SNC may have weighed, including vertical versus horizontal integration and launch complex facilities. SNC did say that "ULA had a pretty significant advantage because we have been working with ULA from day one," and they had a "really good competitive price."

SkyMan1958
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posted 08-14-2019 07:56 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for SkyMan1958   Click Here to Email SkyMan1958     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by oly:
...miss an opportunity to launch using a reusable first stage rocket.
In theory I certainly agree with you.

However, I'll play the devil's advocate here, and try and see SNC's decision through their eyes. First off, they already had a deal with the Atlas V, and the Vulcan is the successor to the Atlas V. Second, in theory, the Vulcan is partially renewable.

Third, SNC is competing with SpaceX in the CRS sphere, so they probably don't want to pump any more money into SpaceX. Finally, the cynic in me says that the ULA has good political lobbying connections, so by attaching SNC to this "corporation" they are more likely to get continued funding down the road if any sort of delay or glitch crops up in their development.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 08-14-2019 08:26 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Just a note about Vulcan's reusability: the SMART (Sensible Modular Autonomous Return Technology) concept of recovering the engine section is expected to be introduced at earliest in 2024, at the tail end or after SNC's six flights to the space station have been completed.

oly
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posted 08-15-2019 12:14 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for oly   Click Here to Email oly     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by SkyMan1958:
SNC is competing with SpaceX in the CRS sphere, so they probably don't want to pump any more money into SpaceX.
The contracts for CRS are for resupply, each contractor has been given a set number of resupply missions, they don't take a flight away from somebody else per se.

I would think both SpaceX, Blue Origin, or others, would want opportunity to demonstrate their ability to cater to a wide variety of launch vehicles and payload types.

Vertical versus horizontal integration is one aspect of flying customers that any company would need to address should they wish to compete in a truly adaptive market. SNC would benefit from having a vehicle that can adapt easily to any LV, as would any launch provider benefit from having the ability to work with any customer.

SNC do not compete directly against any other CRS provider for launch vehicle capability. In this example they pull Vulcan into the party. If each CRS provider is gauged by their total freight payload to orbit capability, rather than the cost per launch in an ongoing manner, including the cost of reused rockets, the final cost varies greatly. Perhaps Vulcan launch services are given to SNC at a discounted rate to ensure their hat is kept in play. Avoiding pumping money into SpaceX, or any other provider, does not take the opponent out of the race, they are contracted flights. (The ISS may be retired before true competition per resupply flight comes into play.)

I get that it is early days, and achieving their first successful mission is the highest priority. My previous comment was simply about a missed opportunity.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 06-11-2020 01:25 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
NASA photo release
Inside the low bay of the Space Station Processing Facility at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, workers assist as Sierra Nevada Corporation's (SNC) Dream Chaser pressure test article on its support structure is lowered by crane on June 3, 2020, for its move into the high bay.

The test article was shipped from Louisville, Colorado. It is similar to the actual pressurized cabin being used in the Dream Chaser spaceplane for Commercial Resupply Services-2 (CRS-2) missions. The test article will remain at Kennedy while SNC engineers use it to develop and verify refurbishment operations that will be used on Dream Chaser between flights.

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