Known as America’s Spaceplane®, Sierra Space’s Dream Chaser® spaceplane is a multi-mission space utility vehicle designed to transport crew and cargo to low-Earth orbit (LEO) destinations such as the International Space Station.
Dream Chaser was selected by NASA to provide cargo delivery, return and disposal service for the space station under the Commercial Resupply Service 2 (CRS-2) contract. The Dream Chaser Tenacity™ spaceplane will be the first orbital vehicle in our Dream Chaser fleet.
Dream Chaser will provide a minimum of seven cargo missions to and from the space station carrying critical supplies like food, water and science experiments, returning to Earth with a gentle runway landing.
Under NASA's Commercial Resupply Services 2 (CRS-2) contract, Dream Chaser will provide a minimum of seven cargo service missions to and from the space station.
With the help of our Shooting Star™ service module, Dream Chaser can deliver up to 5,500 kg of pressurized and unpressurized cargo to the space station, including food, water, supplies and science experiments and returns to Earth with a gentle runway landing. Dream Chaser can gently return critical cargo at less than 1.5 g’s. The vehicle is designed for high reusability, reducing overall cost and a quick turnaround between missions. The ability to launch on top of multiple launch vehicles and land at a wide variety of runways makes Dream Chaser a flexible option for reliable transportation.
After leaving the space station, the Dream Chaser Cargo System also offers disposal services via the Shooting Star transport vehicle. Once separated from Dream Chaser, Shooting Star burns up safely in the Earth’s atmosphere.
Dream Chaser was originally designed as a crewed spaceplane, in part under NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, capable of carrying up to seven astronauts to and from the space station and other LEO destinations. Dream Chaser is 30 feet, or 9 meters, long which is roughly ¼ the total length of the space shuttle orbiters and can carry up to five crew members.
The crewed version of Dream Chaser is approximately 85% common to the cargo system and has environmental control and life support systems, windows for crew visibility, an integral main propulsion system for abort capability and major orbital maneuvers.
The Dream Chaser spaceplane is a multi-mission vehicle that can support a variety of low-Earth orbit needs. Dream Chaser can be customized for both domestic and international customers through vehicle configuration, launch site, destination, landing site, duration and a host of other variables. We have entered into agreements with multiple international space agencies and together we are developing technologies, applications and missions for Dream Chaser-based space systems.
Microgravity laboratory for on-orbit science
Remote sensing for Earth & space imaging & observation
Unique microgravity manufacturing & production
Satellite servicing, deployment, assembly, retrieval, deorbit & propellant transfer
Carries & returns astronauts & cargo to other LEO destinations
The Dream Chaser spaceplane is owned and operated by Sierra Space, a wholly owned subsidiary of Sierra Nevada Corporation. Although design, manufacturing and assembly is based in Louisville, Colorado, we have assembled a world-class “Dream Team” of aerospace companies, NASA centers, universities and international partners all collaborating to ensure the Dream Chaser is the safest, most reliable spacecraft in the world. We have established cooperative agreements with international space agencies collectively representing almost two dozen spacefaring countries with a heritage of success that includes hundreds of missions. For NASA missions, vehicle refurbishment between flights will be performed at Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
A typical airplane has large wings that provide the lift to keep the vehicle in the air. While Dream Chaser does have small winglets, or fins, to provide directional stability in flight, the lift is created by the body of the vehicle (the underside) which is wide and flat. Our gentle low-g reentry allows us to build Thermal Protection System (TPS) and an overall vehicle that is fully reusable with pin-point landing capability enabled by the lifting-body characteristics. The lifting-body design gives Dream Chaser a higher lift-to-drag ratio and allows for greater cross-range landing capability, meaning the landing zone (or places where it can land) is greatly increased.
Since Dream Chaser uses all non-toxic consumables, including propellants, there are no environmental or safety hazards that require unique ground support infrastructure. As a result, it has the potential to land anywhere that has a suitable 10,000 ft runway capable of handling a typical large passenger airplane. Almost immediately after landing, the Dream Chaser spaceplane offers access to cargo and crew. Additionally, a runway landing substantially increases safety and reduces risk because runways are developed, maintained and operated to strict domestic and international standards. With other spacecraft, such as capsules, a distant splash down into an ocean or remote landing crew and cargo retrieval is more labor intensive, takes longer to complete, requires more support infrastructure and introduces risk - including those related to injured crew or sensitive cargo. For scientists, researchers, and medical personnel, the benefits of the near-immediate accessibility afforded by runway landings are unmatched.
Dream Chaser will experience atmospheric entry with a maximum of only 1.5 g’s throughout the flight profile, which is considerably less than existing capsule-based orbital return systems, or even most roller coasters! This attribute makes the Dream Chaser vehicle ideal for sensitive payloads and deconditioned or injured crew members returning from space.
Our cargo version of the Dream Chaser spaceplane is designed to be reused 15 or more times, which is more than any other current space vehicle, making the Dream Chaser affordable and responsive. The crew version is designed for a minimum of 25 missions.
Right now the Dream Chaser spaceplane is designed as a Space Utility Vehicle (SUV) for LEO. The spacecraft is capable of docking or berthing to the International Space Station (Space Station) and can perform a variety of other missions in LEO including: remote sensing, satellite servicing; free-flying, self-contained science or manufacturing; serving as an exploration testbed, or performing active debris removal (cleaning up space trash).
The Dream Chaser spaceplane third-generation design builds upon four decades of NASA development (i.e., HL-20, and lifting-body space shuttle legacy). Dream Chaser is 30 feet (or 9 meters) long which is roughly ¼ the total length of the Space Shuttle orbiters. The Space Shuttle was designed with a spacious cargo bay to allow it to carry large structures to space such as components for the International Space Station (Space Station) and the Hubble Space Telescope. However in 2011 Space Station construction was completed, therefore, NASA no longer needs such a large cargo vehicle to transport hardware or cargo to and from LEO. Instead, NASA now needs smaller, more efficient transportation systems to transport cargo and crew to and from the Space Station.