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Posted

Now that atmospheric flight tests are about to begin and a new concept video has been released, it's time for a new thread about Sierra Nevada Corporation's new spaceplane, the Dream Chaser.

Reviewing: a 7 passenger lifting body commercial spaceplane that initially will launch atop an Atlas V launcher, though a Falcon 9 v1.1, Delta IV or likely an Ariane V could be used with an adapter.

What looks like wings are not - they are the stabilizers. In a lifting body the curvature of the fuselage serves as the "wing." Very advanced aerodynamics its taken decades to get this far. Dream Chaser can land on ordinary airport runways, and it only sees 1.5 G's during re-entry.

Power is by 2 hybrid rocket engines, a combination of solid fuel with a liquid oxidizer. This lets a solid rocket be throttled, shut down and re-started.

The crew and cargo are loaded by a hatch at the top, and it docks with an adapter at the rear between the engines. A cargo bay and compact robotic arm may be added later.

Previous thread: http://www.neowin.net/forum/topic/990686-snc-dream-chaser-dc-with-a-door/

Concept of Operations video (CONOPS)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i7yPVaNdGBw

Pic
[img]http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/jonathanamos/snc_dreamchaser.jpg[/img]
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Posted

How much will one of these flights cost?

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[quote name='Growled' timestamp='1358469390' post='595461082']
How much will one of these flights cost?
[/quote]

Should be cheap. I see they are saving some money on the wheels ... there are only 2.
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Posted

Using a nose skid instead of a wheeled landing gear lightened the structure by hundreds of pounds, and that translates directly into a larger cargo capacity. Put a dolly under the skid, hook up a runway tractor and drive her away. Good call.

Costs -

Point of reference: NASA says flying a Space Shuttle with its crew of 7 cost $450M per launch, but IMO that's a bit optimistic. The total cost of the STS program was $196B and there were 135 flights, so 196B / 135 gives you about $1.452B per flight, or $207.4M per seat. Eek.

We are paying Russia about $60M per seat to fly on a Soyuz.

At the NASA - Bigelow Aerospace news conference last Wednesday Robert Bigelow, who is depending on the commercial players to handle flights to his Alpha Station so he has insider numbers, said that the costs break down like this;

The Boeing CST-100 launched by an Atlas V is going to cost about $36.75M per seat, so 7x36.75 = $257.25M per flight.

The DragonRider launched by a Falcon 9 v1.1 will run about $26.25M per seat, so 7x26.25 = $183.75M per flight.

I would expect Dream Chaser launched by an Atlas V to be around $240M or so because of the high cost of an Atlas V. Put it on a Falcon 9 v1.1 and it'd probably split the difference between DragonRider and CST-100 at about $220.5M per flight.

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Posted

So that is about 31Mil each, which is half of what USA is paying the Russians.

Hopefully SpaceX can get their prices down even further with the grasshopper. I think I read somewhere that they were looking to get it down to 50Mil per flight. That would make the dream chaser more viable.

But what does the dream chaser have over the Dragon Rider/ CST?

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Posted

SpaceX thinks that a reusable F9 will cost less than $1M per flight, with the cost of an expendable F9 being about $55M now. The rest of the cost of a manned flight is the spacecraft, its processing for re-use, cargo integration, ground preps, crew preps etc. and those won't go away.

F9 reusabilit would be a game changer for all 3 spacecraft since DC and CST are launcher agnostic - with adapters for the 2nd stage diameter & the spacecraft command harness they could fly on an F9.

DC's big advantages are that during re-entry it only sustains 1.5G of deceleration vs 3 for Dragon & 3-4 for CST (important for med-evac from orbit), it can land on most commercial airport runways, and that it has a 1500 km cross-range capability, meaning it can land that far on either side of its orbital track.

DC's downsides are a limited cargo mass vs Dragon & CST, no unpressurized cargo capability (Dragon = 3 mT unpressurized), and it is orbital only while Dragon and to a bit lesser degree CST both could be outfitted for lunat and beyond Earth Orbit (BEO). DC's heat shield isn't up to those re-entry speeds. Dragon's heat shield is the best by far- capable of returns at well over 30,000 mph vs 25,000 for lunar returns and <17,000 for orbital re-entry.

Dragon is closest to BEO ops because of its heat shield and its cargo trunk could easily be modded into a service module akin to Apollo's, but without the need for power generating fuel cells (what exploded on Apollo 13) - it's already solar powered. CST has no power system beyond what charge is in its batteries at launch. Ditto for DC. Their batteries have to be recharged by the space station they're visiting.

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Posted

So the reason for DC is for a med-evac vehicle, or for equipment/experiments that cant stand the G's. I see that this is a good endeavor for safety but I guess they will end up having financial issues.

It would be ok as a crew transport just more expensive. It could be better for Tourists with the lower G's and better landing locations.

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Posted

There were rumors of Virgin Galactic being interested for orbital rides, and interest by the military because DC meets most of the specs for the optionally crewed follow-on to X-37B (aka "X-37C"). It would also do well for rides to the Bigelow commercial stations and, with a cargo bay door (seen in SNC's artwork), sat servicing and military "observation" missions. It can also fly fully robotic missions like X-37B, but it'll need a solar array for long ones.

[img]http://digitalvideo.8m.net/SierraNevada/dc%2Ddoors.jpg[/img]

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Posted

[quote]@flatoday_jdean (James Dean of Florida Today)

SNC will host press conference Wednesday "to announce Dream Chaser expansion and Commercial Crew Program update."[/quote]

[Quote]flatoday_jdean
Sorry, that should have been "Dream Chaser program expansion and Commercial Crew Program update."[/quote]

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Posted

Holy Moley!!

From todays SNC - Lockheed Martin event Q&A -

Lockheed Martin has teamed with SNC to help with the Dream Chaser's certification as an exclusive partner. SNC will use LockMart facilities, including MAF. SNC didn't release the dollar value of the Lockheed deal, but called it a "significant multimillion dollar contract".

Jim Crocker of Lockheed Martin says they will have dozens of people working on the Dream Chaser certification. Baselining a 25 to 30 mission life for Dream Chaser, possibly more. They will build as many vehicles as needed for the market.

Dream Chaser will be shipped to NASA Dryden in two weeks, and in 6-8 weeks it will be dropped from a helicopter for a runway landing test. Initial tests will last 30-40 seconds; drop from 12,000 ft, achieve 300 knots and land on a runway at 180 knots, They will collect aero data gathering on next several tests (2-5 flights.) After those comes the Dream Chaser FTV (Flight Test Vehicle) and [/b]piloted[/b] flight tests. Orbital tests in about 2 years.

Private passenger orbital flights are on the table, and SNC could provide flight services to other nations that want space programs but won't or can't invest the money in their own capability.

Dream Chaser could serve as an unmanned science platform, provide satellite servicing, and do missions involving orbit changes

Presser -

[quote]Sierra Nevada Corporation and Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company Partner On Dream Chaser Programs

SPARKS, Nev.,

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[img]http://www.spacefacts.de/more/astronauts/photo/archambault_lee_2.jpg[/img]

http://www.spaceref.com/news/viewpr.html?pid=40511

[quote][b]Former NASA Astronaut Lee Archambault Joins Sierra Nevada Corporation's Dream Chaser Team[/b]

Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) announces that former NASA astronaut Lee Archambault has joined the Dream Chaser team as a chief systems engineer and test pilot. In his new position, Archambault will oversee planning and execution of Dream Chaser's flight test programs and the design of the crew interfaces in the Dream Chaser cockpit.

"As a crew member on two Space Shuttle missions to the International Space Station (ISS), I was honored to be part of a great NASA team," said Archambault. "Now, I am fortunate to contribute to the design, development, and test of the next U.S. built and launched crewed spacecraft, providing transportation to the ISS for our astronauts."

Archambault served as a fighter pilot, test pilot, and instructor pilot during a decorated 28-year career with the U.S. Air Force and NASA. NASA selected Archambault as an astronaut in 1998. He is a veteran of two Space Shuttle missions, including STS-117 and STS-119. He has logged 27 days in space and over 5,000 hours in more than 30 different aircraft, including 22 combat missions in the F-117A Stealth Fighter during Operation DESERT STORM.

"We are extraordinarily fortunate to have Lee join our expanding SNC team," said Mark Sirangelo, head of SNC's Space Systems. "Lee's long history at NASA, in spaceflight and his expansive flight experience will add significantly to the Dream Chaser program."
>[/quote]

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http://www.nasa.gov/exploration/commercial/crew/index.html

[Quote][b]CCP Spotlight on Development[/b]

Thu, 25 Apr 2013 04:54:38 PM UTC

Elements of Sierra Nevada Corp. Space Systems' Dream Chaser design will undergo significant testing this month, including evaluations of the Thermal Protection System in a phosphor thermography wind tunnel. The Thermal Protection System, or TPS, is the heat shield that keeps super-heated plasma from damaging the spacecraft as it enters Earth's atmosphere. The plasma is created by friction between the spacecraft, which is flying in at more than 17,000 mph, and the air in the upper reaches of the atmosphere. The heat shield for the Dream Chaser also challenges designers because it has to hug the aerodynamic form of the spacecraft that is designed to glide to a runway landing after returning from space.[/quote]

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Posted



[Quote][b]Sierra Nevada Corporation Completes Dream Chaser

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One last step before drop test flights (it's heading for the test site VERY soon) and a first launch. The first drop tests will be robotic, but soon after they 'll be piloted. It'll then gradiate to powered tests of its dual hybrid abort / orbital maneuvering / re-entry burn engines.

http://www.nasa.gov/exploration/commercial/crew/snc-safetyreview.html

[Quote]Sierra Nevada Corp. (SNC) Space Systems of Louisville, Colo., has completed its first major, comprehensive safety review of its Dream Chaser Space System. This is the company's latest paid-for-performance milestone with NASA's Commercial Crew Program (CCP), which is working with commercial space partners to develop capabilities to launch U.S. astronauts from American soil in the next few years.

The Integrated Systems Safety Analysis Review provided NASA with hazard reports and safety and reliability plans for the major components of the company's integrated crew transportation system, including the Dream Chaser spacecraft, United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket, and flight and ground systems.

"Safety review milestones are critical to ensuring safety and reliability techniques and methods are incorporated into space systems design," said Ed Mango, NASA's CCP manager. "NASA's participation in these reviews provides our partners with critical design experiences from past human spaceflight activities."

SNC is developing its Dream Chaser Space System under NASA's Commercial Crew Integrated Capability (CCiCap) initiative, which is intended to lead to the availability of commercial human spaceflight services for government and commercial customers.

"Dream Chaser is making substantial progress toward flight with the help of our NASA team," said Mark Sirangelo, head of SNC's Space Systems. "The ability to openly exchange information through the work on these CCiCap milestones is invaluable for many reasons, such as communicating Dream Chaser development plans and receiving timely feedback from NASA, all of which help to improve our design and maximize safety and reliability. As we begin our flight test program we have a better and stronger program due to our partnership with NASA."[/quote]

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The SNC Dream Chaser engineering test article (ETA) has left by truck convoy for the NASA Dryden flight test center. The trip was delayed a bit because its seven actuator control units (ACU's move the control surfaces) were replaced. At Dryden it will be used for drop / glide landing tests. Drops will initially he from ~14,000 ft from a large cargo helicopter. The ETA had its tail and winglets removed and was shrink-wrapped for the trip.

SNC confirms that the fuzzy dice that have been hanging behind its windscreen will remain in place throughout its test flights :)

Crew launch tower concept (Atlas V 402)
[Img]http://www.nasaspaceflight.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/Z93.jpg[/img]

Dream Chaser ETA (provisional name: "Eagle")
[img]http://www.nasa.gov/images/content/747983main_SNC-ETA.jpg[/img]

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Posted

^ Now -that's- what I call a space ship! And I just love the fluffy dice. They should stay, forever!

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[quote name='DocM' timestamp='1368402537' post='595686368']
[img]http://www.nasa.gov/images/content/747983main_SNC-ETA.jpg[/img]
[/quote]

It reminds me of a seaplane from Disney's TaleSpin :D

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[quote name='FloatingFatMan' timestamp='1368516518' post='595688820']
^ Now -that's- what I call a space ship! And I just love the fluffy dice. They should stay, forever![/quote]

Like that 'eh? Welll, SNC says they may well sell them to entities who want a space program but not the sevelopment headaches. Just have to meet US Govt. ITAR export laws. Can fly off most medium to heavy lift launchers too.

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Getting ready for her first captive carry test after being unwrapped. -

[Quote][b]SNC's Dream Chaser is Unwrapped for Testing[/b]

Tue, 21 May 2013 9:45:28 PM UTC

Several Sierra Nevada Corporation employees recently unwrapped the Dream Chaser flight test vehicle following its five-state journey from Colorado to NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center in southern California. The prototype space access vehicle will undergo ground and approach-and-landing flight tests in the coming months at Dryden as part of NASA's Commercial Crew Program (CCP) development work. SNC is one of three companies working with CCP during the agency's Commercial Crew Integrated Capability (CCiCap) initiative, which is intended to lead to the availability of commercial human spaceflight services for government and commercial customers.[/quote]

Dryden Images: http://www.nasa.gov/centers/dryden/multimedia/imagegallery/Dream_Chaser/index.html

[img]http://digitalvideo.8m.net/dreamchaser/flighttest/dcdryden1.jpg[/img]


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[quote][b]NASA Administrator Flies Dream Chaser Simulator[/b]

Published on May 24, 2013

NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden had the opportunity to fly a simulated landing of the Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) Dream Chaser while touring the agency's Dryden Flight Research Center in California on May 22.

SNC's Dream Chaser flight test vehicle arrived at Dryden on May 15 in preparation for tow, captive-carry and free-flight tests later this year. The testing is part of NASA's Commercial Crew Program (CCP) initiatives to develop safe, reliable and cost-effective access to and from low-Earth orbit destinations, including the International Space Station.[/quote]

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hwFJUg0XcLw

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Posted

That ship is just [i]gorgeous[/i].

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Posted

That she is, and Sierra Nevada is talking about a fleet of them for other countries, companies or whoever that gets a pass from the govt. export restrictions to use for orbital access. Their list of partners is impressive, starting with Lockheed-Martin.

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Posted

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DheVO2qwzsI

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Posted

FYI i didnt listen to the audio.

a couple of things.

I thought this had a nose skid instead of a front wheel, in the video it looks to have a nose skid.

Also i thought this would be side mounted on the rocket like the shuttle, not as a nose cone.

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[quote name='IsItPluggedIn' timestamp='1369805056' post='595720794']
FYI i didnt listen to the audio.

a couple of things.

I thought this had a nose skid instead of a front wheel, in the video it looks to have a nose skid.[/quote]

It does have a nose skid. This was changed late last year, after some of the online videos were rendered. A wheeled landing gear weighs much more and is more complex. A skids light weight translates into more cargo mass, and the simplicity removes several failure modes. Once it rolls to a stop a dolly is placed under the skid for towing. KISS.

[Quote]Also i thought this would be side mounted on the rocket like the shuttle, not as a nose cone.[/quote]

Side mounting is what contributed to losing 2 shuttles;

Columbia was lost because insulation foam debris fell off the external tank and destroyed the thermal protection system. Without the insulation there would have been condensation ice from the stores of cryogenic propellants - even worse. Mitigation attempts failed to stop the foam shedding, so every shuttle suffered several damaged thermal protection tiles.

Side mounting, necessary because of the Shuttles large size, also contributed to the loss of Challenger as it took most all abort options from T-0s to T-180s off the table. If anything happened in that first 3 minutes, such as a failed SRB and tank burn-through as with Challenger, you lost the shuttle and its crew.

Shuttle looked and sounded cool, but it was needlessly dangerous and was flown 15 years longer than it should have been. An accident looking for a place to happen.

By mounting on the top of the launcher and away from the tanks (could be Atlas V, Delta IV, Falcon 9 or even Arieane) and being smaller Dream Chaser can abort anywhere from the pad on up. MUCH safer, and something all the CCiCap vehicles (Dream Chasr, SpaceX's Dragon 2, Boeing's CST-100) will be able to do.

Interestingly, Dream Chaser is based on the NASA HL-20 and its bigger brother the HL-42, both of which were planned to replace the Shuttle in the early 1990's but were canceled. So much for foresight. HL-20 was picked up by SpaceDev as Dream Chaser, who was later bought out by Sierra Nevada Corp. when Jim Benson, SpaceDev's founder, passed away.

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