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Posted 07 August 2014 - 19:31
Posted 09 August 2014 - 02:22
Sierra Nevada On Track For Restart Of Lifting Body Flight Tests
SAN DIEGO Sierra Nevada Space Systems is readying the refurbished engineering test article (ETA) version of its Dream Chaser lifting body vehicle for a new series of flight tests this fall and says assembly of the first space-capable version of the vehicle is on track for an orbital test flight in November 2016.
The company, which is competing with the Dream Chaser against capsule designs from Boeing and SpaceX for a contract to take astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS) under NASAs Commercial Crew Program, is more than 90% through the qualification program.
"We see our vehicle as more of an SUV for servicing of the ISS as well as to make low Earth orbit accessible for all of us," says Sierra Nevada Space Systems President Mark Sirangelo.
Speaking at the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics Space 2014 conference here, Sirangelo says, "We have entered critical design review [CDR] and have completed nine of the subsystems that needed to be done. We have passed a significant group of CDRs on various subsystems ranging from the actuator controls to the cabin full-scale mockup."
Overall Sierra has completed 30 milestones and is more than 92% of the way through the Commercial Crew integrated Capability (CCiCap) contract. Under a recently granted extension, Sierra now has until March 2015 to complete these milestones, rather than the end of August 2014 as previously scheduled.
Sierra also submitted certification documents for the Dream Chaser to NASA and "received the highest grades we could on it," Sirangelo says. The structures for two orbital test vehicles (OTVs) are under assembly at Lockheed Martins Michoud site in New Orleans, with final assembly due to take place at Lockheeds Fort Worth site starting in late 2015. The first vehicle is booked for launch in November 2016 on an Atlas V and will be unmanned. However, two flights are required for certification and a crewed launch will follow in 2017.
Commenting on plans for the upcoming atmospheric flight tests at Edwards AFB, California, Sirangelo says, "We got so much good data [from the first flight on Oct. 26, 2013], we didnt need to do a second flight, even though we had an issue with the vehicle." The vehicle overturned on landing after one of the main landing legs failed to deploy. This was later traced to contamination of the hydraulic fluid, he adds. For the upcoming tests, "We will do between two and five additional flights. A couple will be crewed. As a result of the vehicle being upgraded, we will be flying our orbital flight software, which will give us about a years worth of advancement on the vehicle." Flights are expected to last over a six- to nine-month period, he adds.
Posted 20 August 2014 - 05:52
Posted Today, 07:45
Global Partnerships Pave Path Forward for Private International Dream Chaser For Multiple Purposes
By amassing “global partnerships with 21 space agencies” the private Dream Chaser space plane has a solid foundation and “a path to continue” forward, Mark Sirangelo, corporate vice president of Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) Space Systems, told AmericaSpace in Part 4 of our exclusive, one-on-one interview about their efforts to build a cost effective and potentially international version of their ‘astronaut taxi’ to the International Space Station (ISS) as well as multiple exciting missions beyond!
“We have 21 space agencies that have a connection to the program now, which is pretty incredible,” Sirangelo told me. “We have a path with these other relationships to continue.”
“A European or Japanese version of Dream Chaser is possible in the future.”
Dream Chaser’s inaugural launch atop an Atlas V rocket from Florida is slated for Nov. 2016 on an unmanned orbital test flight. Furthermore SNC has already begun building the orbital vehicle and bought the rocket.
Over the past months SNC has laid the foundation for a global expansion through a series of agreements with new international partners including ESA (European Space Agency), DLR (German Aerospace Agency) and JAXA (Japanese Aerospace and Exploration Agency).
SNC has used NASA’s ISS model as the basis for how to build effective global partnerships. And those global space agencies also need to find new ways to pay NASA for maintaining their ISS funding commitments into the future since its longevity was recently extended to at least 2024.
And the international partners may in fact also hold the key to paving the path forward for the Dream Chaser program, regardless of the outcome of NASA’s imminent and momentous downselect decision concerning who wins the contract to build the private ‘space taxis’ aimed at restarting manned blastoffs from US launch pads.
I concluded Part 3 of the Mark Sirangelo interview with this question …. What happens to Dream Chaser if Sierra Nevada does not receive the CCtCAP commercial crew contract from NASA? Do you go ahead anyway or stop?
“We have all the elements to be able to go ahead. Whether we go ahead is a matter of whether there is a business case for it. We can’t say at this time,” Sirangelo replied.
“NASA is an important part of this. But we have been laying the foundation with other relationships as well.”
Here’s how. Europe and Japan can contribute money, technology, launchers and even new variants of the Dream Chaser that could be critical not just to the vehicles viability, but also to the very survival of the ISS itself as well as opening up an array of entirely new mission concepts for science and exploration.
“We are trying to help these global space agencies, help ourselves and also give NASA support for maintaining the ISS as long as possible,” Sirangelo elaborated.
“Dream Chaser is not just designed for the ISS mission. There are multiple uses of the Dream Chaser beyond the ISS.”
Dream Chaser is a winged, manned space plane being developed by SNC to restore America’s indigenous capability to ferry American astronauts from American soil to low Earth orbit and the International Space Station (ISS) – with funding from NASA’s Commercial Crew Integrated Capability initiative (CCiCAP) under the auspices of the agency’s commercial crew program.