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SNC Dream Chaser (DC with a door?)

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Starting off with a 5:38 interview with a Sierra Nevada type at the recent Space Symposium.

Dream Chaser is a 7 passenger spaceplane that's part of NASA's CCDev program and will be a player in commercial space programs. Very likely to be used by Virgin Galactic for its orbital missions as well.

Video link....

(no, it won't work with the MEDIA tags)

Sierra+Nevada+Dream_Chaser.jpg

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Now that they have a CCDev 2 contract....

NASA-SNC CCDev 2 contract (PDF)....

Aviation Week article....

Sierra Nevada Details Drop Plan For Dream Chaser

LOS ANGELES ?Bolstered by its recent second-round NASA Commercial Crew Development Program (CCDev2) win to continue development of the Dream Chaser spaceship, Sierra Nevada Corp. is revealing new details of its plan to conduct full-scale drop tests in 2012 using the Scaled Composites-developed WhiteKnightTwo mothership.

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The atmospheric drop test of the full-scale vehicle, expected sometime in the second quarter of 2012, will asses handling qualities as well as stability and control during an unpowered descent to a conventional runway landing. The design of the low-speed flight control system is being fine-tuned after drop tests of a scale model were conducted in December at NASA Dryden Flight Research Center from a helicopter hovering over the dry lakebed at Edwards AFB, Calif.

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why are they waiting a year? i don't understand why there's such a long lead time on these things...maybe i'm just naive.

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Lots of pieces from lots of places . DC being a spaceplane is a much more complex project than a capsule, even though it's limited to just Earth orbit.

The development team:

SNC_Team.jpg

Sierra Nevada Corporation - Experienced space co. with projects from satellites to major parts of the Mars rovers. In addition to coordinating and managing the team, SNC will manage all internal systems, propulsion, structure, and launch vehicle.

Adam Works - Aerospace composite structures. To assist SNC in structural fabrication using their combined composite manufacturing capabilities.

Aerojet ? Rocket engine design & manufacture. Development of the main reaction control system (RCS)

Draper Laboratory ? to lead orbital guidance, navigation and control (GN&C) development.

Boeing ? Phantom Works division will build the test article. Boeing main to provide expertise in lifting body spacecraft including analysis, avionics, GN&C, software, and flight control.

NASA Langley Research Center - expertise in HL-20 (the source design) analysis and modeling.

MDA - (Canada) Makers of the Shuttles Canadarm, and other space hardware. The U.S. component of MDA will provide launch vehicle structural interface, communication and separation systems, and systems engineering services.

University of Colorado - CU will conduct displays and controls layout and evaluations and refine the integrated system Human Rating Plan, with assistance from SAS.

SAS - Assist Colorado University with displays and controls layout and evaluations and refine the integrated system Human Rating Plan.

United Launch Alliance - Atlas V launcher. ULA has been on the team for more than 4 years.

United Space Alliance - Managed Shuttle operations. USA will use their extensive Shuttle experience to provide operations and software development support.

Virgin Galactic - SNC and Virgin Galactic are working together to plan for global marketing, sales, and commercial operation of the orbital Dream Chaser.

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Celebrating Dream Chaser's predecessor the HL-20. Note the shots of the DC test craft under construction. Still hunting for the long version of this...

Sierra Nevada comments at the Commercial Crew Development Round 2 (CCDev-2) contract awards presser.

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Sierra Nevada Corp. has hired veteran NASA astronaut Steven W. Lindsey (USAF Ret) as the Director of Flight Operations for the Dream Chaser spaceplane project. As DoFO he will be responsible for activities related to flight testing, flight operations, and crew training,

Lindsey is the former Chief of NASA's Astronaut Office, which he ran for four years, and he is also a veteran of four shuttle missions - most recently as Commander of STS-133, the final flight of Discovery.

By hiring Lindsey they starting their astronaut corps with one of NASA's biggest guns.

NASA bio....

jsc2005e21973.jpg

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SNC signs Space Act agreement with NASA.

This is similar to the one SoaceX, Orbital etc. have which gives them access to NASA's test facilities, technical know-how etc. to help speed Dream Chaser development. A definite sign that they're going to be accelerating their development.

Also interesting is that the Dream Chaser test article is nearing completion and drop tests are expected next year. SS2's WhiteKnightTwo carrier will be doing mothership duties.

http://www.nasa.gov/home/hqnews/2011/jul/HQ_11-221_Sierra_Space_Act.html

NASA Signs Commercial Space Agreement With Sierra Nevada

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CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida is entering into an agreement with Sierra Nevada Space Systems (SNSS) of Sparks, Nev., to offer technical capabilities from the center's uniquely skilled work force.

The umbrella space act agreement is Kennedy's latest step in its transition from a historically government-only launch complex to a multi-user spaceport. Sierra Nevada also has space act agreements with NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston; NASA's Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va.; NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center at Edwards, Calif.; and NASA's Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif.

"We're pleased that our partner Sierra Nevada is going to make use of the deep resources existing at the Kennedy Space Center to enhance its ongoing work," said NASA Administrator Charles Bolden. "Sierra Nevada's agreements with Kennedy and other NASA centers demonstrate its commitment to using the full resources of NASA as the agency facilitates commercial cargo and crew capabilities to the International Space Station."

Kennedy will help Sierra Nevada with the ground operations support of its lifting body reusable spacecraft called "Dream Chaser," which resembles a smaller version of the space shuttle orbiter. The spacecraft would carry as many as seven astronauts to the space station.

Through the new agreement, Kennedy's work force will use its experience of processing the shuttle fleet for 30 years to help Sierra Nevada define and execute Dream Chaser's launch preparations and post-landing activities.

"The partnership is an effort to bring new commercial space activities to the center and help transition Kennedy from a government, program-focused, single user launch complex to a diverse, multi-use spaceport, enabling both government and commercial space providers," said Kennedy Center Director Bob Cabana.

In 2010 and 2011, Sierra Nevada was awarded grants as part of the initiative to stimulate the private sector in developing and demonstrating human spaceflight capabilities for NASA's Commercial Crew Program. The goal of the program, which is based at Kennedy, is to facilitate the development of a U.S. commercial crew space transportation capability by achieving safe, reliable and cost-effective access to and from the space station and future low Earth orbit destinations.

"Our Dream Chaser vehicle was born at NASA, and NASA has continued to be an important partner in the vehicle's development," said Mark Sirangelo, head of SNSS. "By adding the Kennedy Space Center, with its highly experienced technical staff and world-class facilities, to the Sierra Nevada Dream Chaser Program we blend the best of both the NASA shuttle heritage alongside the best of industry practices."

NASA also has space act agreements with other commercial partners under the agency's Commercial Crew Program. Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne has agreements with NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., for development of the J-2X upper-stage engine; NASA's Stennis Space Center in Mississippi for hardware assurance testing; and NASA's Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, for propulsion related technology development. Space Exploration Technologies Corp. (SpaceX) in Hawthorne, Calif., has agreements with Marshall for engineering development work, and Orbital Sciences Corp. in Dulles, Va., has agreements with Marshall and Stennis for AJ-26 engine engineering support.

For more information about Kennedy, visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/kennedy

For information about NASA's commercial transportation programs, visit:

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

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- end -

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Cosmic Log had an interesting interview with SNC.

Mostly it covers their signing the Space Act Agreement with NASA that gives them access to their labs and facilities to speed Dream Chaser's development, but the 6PM update reveals some new info about launch sites etc. and that it can land most anywhere.

NASA's Kennedy Space Center signed a deal today to let Sierra Nevada Corp. use its facilities to develop and launch a mini-shuttle for servicing the International Space Station, beginning as early as 2015.

"This is a really great step toward a bright future for us," NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said at the signing, which took place in the Florida space center's briefing room.

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"We are going to transform human space flight for future generations," Cabana said.

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Update for 6 p.m. ET:

Sierra Nevada's Sirangelo discussed the deal in more depth with me during an interview this afternoon. Among other things, he told me that the Dream Chaser could be launched atop an Atlas 5 from California as well as from Florida, and it could land on any runway. If it happened to land in California, or anyplace else, that's no big deal. "It returns home in a cargo plane," Sirangelo told me. The mini-shuttle is compact enough to fit within a C-5 transport plane, he noted.

He suggested that the Dream Chaser couldmtouch down in, say, Madison to deliver fresh experimental samples to a lab at the University of Wisconsin ? or make a landing at the EAA AirVenture air show to give the crowds a thrill. A spaceship coming to your hometown ... how's that sound as a way to build interest in the space program?

Stay tuned for more from Sirangelo and other players in the commercial space race next week, once I transcribe my notes.

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things are ramping up, we will have several successors to the shuttle in a couple of years at this rate, off to the moon by 2016-2017, Mars by 2020. bring in the Euros, Japanese, Russians and China and that schedule becomes guaranteed :cool:

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MSNBC Cosmic Log article....

They go into their relationship with Virgin Galactic, the possibility of suborbital and orbital passenger flights, non-NASA flights etc.

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Sierra Nevada's Mark Sirangelo at NewSpace 2011 -

- Selected the Atlas V five years ago. First company to work with ULA on Commercial Crew.

- (Atlas V) Will have launched over 40 times by the time Dream Chaser flies on it.

- First full sized structural vehicle and other hardware well into production.

- Completely tested the flight motors.

- Don't need a separate abort system; uses the same rockets for vehicle propulsion as for abort.

- Will have power to select runway.

- Can always fine a runway to land from launch to orbit and back.

- Built a large scale model and flew it from 14k feet several times.

- Built and tested a full scale cockpit flight simulator

Q&A:

- Contacted some of the engineers who worked on the (Russian) BOR-4, which was reversed engineered by NASA for the HL-20.

- Smaller version of the SS2 motors. Slightly bigger than the SS1 motors. Same technologies. (Sierra Nevada makes them)

- Highly reusable. Don't know turnaround times yet.

- No toxic fuels on board. Use ethanol/liquid oxygen thrusters (Shuttle used toxic hypergolic fuels)

- Lifting body came out of study of many vehicle designs.

-- Needed a utilitarian vehicle with as many possible uses as possible.

-- Can be all crew or all cargo and can run autonomously on orbit for months at a time (indicates full robotic mode)

-- Can run servicing missions (implies a robotic arm option from Canada's MDA - makers of Shuttle's CanadArm)

-- Number of different markets and lifting body fits well with all of them.

-- Less than 2 G's on reentry

-- Can go right up to vehicle after landing (because of non-toxic fuels).

- Worked with NASA Ames for TPS (thermal protection system - heat shield). Think it can last multiple-missions

-- Remove in large areas rather than tile by tile.

- How many flights for ROI? - As many flights as possible!

-- Expect 25-50 flights per vehicle. Should provide sufficient return.

- Studies showed it doesn't need to be shrouded (no launch fairing surrounding the vehicle).

- Not looking at building a reusable launcher. Not Sierra's expertise. Can launch on someone else's reusable booster

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CBS News story on Commercial Crew, heavy on Dream Chaser.

They disabled embedding, so here's the direct link....

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Major update

First two videos - Save As should work....

Dream Chaser ConOps (silent launch -> landing animation - WMV)

CCDev progress summary/promo (lots of cool stuff - look closely - WMV)

And the basic Dream Chaser PDF brochure. Not fancy, but still -

http://www.spacedev.com/uploads/brochures/Dream_Chaser.pdf

Also find links to 2048x CG renderings showing hatch locations, thermal tile layouts - hell, rivets. Two 2048x photos show photos of the engine test and the engineering test article they used for loads testing at Boeing's Phantom Works. I suggest Save As'ing these.

Docking....

Landing....

Test article....

Engine fire....

Finally: the update text -

SNC?s Space Exploration Systems product line is changing how space is accessed, explored, and utilized through commercial means. With its broad technology base, depth of capability, and human spaceflight expertise, Space Exploration Systems is continually advancing systems and technologies to support the future of human spaceflight.

The focus of the Space Exploration Systems (SES) product line is the Dream ChaserTM Space System (DCSS). The Dream ChaserTM Space System is on the forefront of the commercial human spaceflight industry, offering safe, reliable, and cost effective crew and cargo transportation to low Earth orbit. The Dream ChaserTM Program?s primary mission is to provide the United States with human spaceflight capability by transporting up to seven crew and cargo to the International Space Station (ISS) and returning both crew and cargo safely to Earth.

SNC's Space Systems is currently working with the NASA Commercial Crew and Cargo Office on the Commercial Crew Development (CCDev) Program to develop and configure the system for ISS servicing. In parallel, SNC has signed a memorandum of understanding with United Launch Alliance (ULA) and is evaluating man-rating the Atlas 5 launch vehicle and configuring it for use with Dream ChaserTM to provide a launch configuration based on the exceptional heritage of the Atlas family of launch vehicles.

Dream ChaserTM Space System Features:

  • Reusable lifting-body spacecraft carries up to seven crew and cargo to and from low Earth orbit
    Including the transportation of NASA astronauts to and from the International Space Station
  • Vehicle design derived from NASA?s HL-20 , which has years of development, analysis, and wind tunnel testing by the Langley Research Center
  • Launches vertically on a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V Launch Vehicle
  • Capable of free flight in low Earth orbit and of docking to the International Space Station & other orbital destinations
  • Low-g reentry (< 1.5 gs) protects crew & science experiment return samples
  • Low-impact horizontal landing on a conventional runway
  • Large cross-range with frequent landing opportunities
  • Exceptional crew safety features, such as non-toxic propulsion systems
  • On-board propulsion system derived from SNC?s SpaceShipOne & SpaceShipTwo hybrid rocket motor technology
  • Designed for simple maintenance and quick turnaround
  • Winner of Two NASA Commercial Crew Development Awards, totaling $100 Million
    Space Exploration Systems has successfully completed all Commercial Crew Development Program milestones on time and within budget

Dream ChaserTM - Hybrid Propulsion:

  • SNC?s Space Systems Proven Hybrid Rocket Propulsion Technology has:
    Over 10 years of development
    Over 300 firings
  • Heritage Includes the SpaceShipOne & SpaceShipTwo Rocket Motors
  • A Dream ChaserTM Full Mission Profile Hot Firing Demonstrated the Motor?s Vacuum & Restart Capability
  • Dream ChaserTM Uses Safe, Non-Toxic, Storable, & Human Flight Tested Propellant

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New image has appeared that seems to show a Dream Chaser customized for doing satellite servicing missions, something Sierra Nevada brought up last week.

dc-doors.jpg

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nice, looks a lot like the shuttle, only i assume more high tech? no more 1970's IBM computers with a massive 1MB or RAM?

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Dream Chaser is very high tech.

The life support system is tiny compared to most spacefraft, and the computers modern. By using composite structures it's also very light and the rockets & thrusters use non-toxic fuels vs. the Shuttles hypergolics.

A much different kind of bird.

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Dream Chaser is very high tech.

The life support system is tiny compared to most spacefraft, and the computers modern. By using composite structures it's also very light and the rockets & thrusters use non-toxic fuels vs. the Shuttles hypergolics.

A much different kind of bird.

I didn't know the old shuttles engines were using a toxic fuel. I knew the much popularised thing about the engines used to launch the shuttle in to space only producing water but they keep that other bit of the press :)

Very interesting thanks, I learned something interesting and new today

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The Shuttle attitude thrusters and orbital maneuvering engines used Monomethylhydrazine (MMH) + nitrogen tetroxide - very nasty and toxic stuff. It requires very special handling, and after a shuttle labding they can't go near it (or the crew depart) until the vapors dissipate - sometimes hours.

The Shuttle main engines produced steam (fuel: liquid hydrogen & liquid oxygen) and unburned hydrogen gas.

The SRB's produced a cloud of hydrochloric acid, aluminum dioxide and a bunch of burned rubber type particulates and unused oxidizer - ammonium perchlorate. Can't go near the pad for at least 2-3 hours. SRB fuel matrix breaks down like this -

Ammonium Perchlorate (Oxidizer, 69.6% by weight),

Aluminum (Powdered fuel, 16%),

Iron Oxide (Catalyst, .04%),

Polybutadiene acrylonitrile (PBAN) (Binder, 12.04%)

Epoxy (1.96%)

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why did they use all that stuff for so many years when clearly cleaner tech was available? was it for money reasons?

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The original SRB contractor, Alliant Techsystems (ATK) has a lot of political friends in and out of Congress. They make solid rockets for the military and so are connected - deeply.

Attempts to switch to luquid or hybrid side boosters were killed, and when it became clear shuttle was ending ATK pushed a "Shuttle Derived" system as a follow-on, meaning a system thst would continue to use the SRB's in some form. This continues as part of the Space Launch System concept, even though liquid launchers like Atlas V, Falcon 9/FH etc. are fully capable and cheaper.

Fortunately the funding squeeze is causing even their friends to think again, so maybe there's jope,

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Readiness of a new cockpit simulator for Dream Chaser is verified and is now being used for engineering development tests. The wing-tip fin airfoil design was also selected, so construction of a flight test unit can be completed.

Attached is a pic of Dream Chaser's cockpit simulator. Looks like they went all digital.

post-347280-0-42046700-1313905092.jpg

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nice looking cockpit, cool screens and none of the knobs you used to get with older planes. as for the fuels, if we can regulate fuel used on Earth we should be able to regulate the fuel used in launches to space. i don't like it when space is treated as some exotic industry, and thus is believed not subject to regulation.

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Drop glide tests in summer 2012 first now that funding is approved, suborbital later then a full up launch on an Atlas V - supposedly 2014-2015. Construction on the first bird is underway now.

Reuters....

CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida (Reuters) - A seven-seat space taxi backed by NASA to ferry astronauts to the International Space Station will make a high-altitude test flight next summer, officials said on Tuesday.

Sierra Nevada Corp's "Dream Chaser" space plane, which resembles a miniature space shuttle, is one of four space taxis being developed by private industry with backing from the U.S. government.

For the unmanned test flight, it will be carried into the skies by WhiteKnightTwo, the carrier aircraft for the commercial suborbital passenger ship SpaceShipTwo, backed by Virgin Galactic, a U.S. company owned by Richard Branson's London-based Virgin Group.

The test flight was added after privately held Sierra Nevada got a $25.6-million boost to its existing $80 million contract with NASA.

The test flight will take place from either Edwards Air Force Base in California's Mojave Desert, or from the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico, Ed Mango, manager of NASA's Commercial Crew Program, said at a community briefing at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

With the retirement of the space shuttles this summer, NASA is now dependent on Russia to fly astronauts to the space station, at a cost of more than $50 million per person.

The agency hopes to turn over crew transportation services to one or more commercial firms before the end of 2016, Mango said.

In addition to Sierra Nevada, NASA is funding spaceship development work at Boeing Co, Space Exploration Technologies, and Blue Origin, a start-up firm owned by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos.

"Having only one way to get crew to the station is a limitation," NASA astronaut Mike Fossum, who is currently living aboard the outpost, said during an in-flight interview last week.

The station, a $100 billion project of 16 nations, was finished this year after more than a decade of construction 225 miles above the planet. The outpost, which is about the size of a five-bedroom house, supports a variety of scientific research and technology demonstrations.

Along with helping to develop commercial space taxis, NASA is working on a heavy-lift rocket and capsule to fly astronauts and cargo to asteroids, the moon, Mars and other destinations beyond the space station's orbit.

Drawing heavily on equipment originally built for predecessor programs, including the space shuttle and the canceled Constellation moon exploration initiative, the new rocket, called the Space Launch System or SLS, is scheduled to debut in 2017.

That unmanned test flight would be followed in 2021 by a trial run with astronauts, said Kennedy Space Center director Bob Cabana.

tumblr_lfnipms7vA1qfi928o1_500.jpg

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Cockpit & simulator has passed its NASA milestone approval

http://www.sncorp.com/press_more_info.php?id=467

Sierra Nevada Space Systems Completes Simulator and Avionics Laboratory Milestones for NASA's Commercial Crew Program

Sierra Nevada Corporation's (SNC) Space Systems announces the completion of additional Dream Chaser Space System Milestones under NASA's Commercial Crew Development Phase 2 (CCDev2) Program. SNC is leading a team of industry partners, universities, and NASA Centers to develop a low-cost space system that will provide NASA with the capability to safely transport crew and cargo to and from the International Space Station (ISS). To date, SNC has completed five of thirteen Milestones under the CCDev2 Program, all on time and on budget. The Program is on schedule to culminate in a high-altitude flight test of the Dream Chaser crew vehicle in the summer of 2012.

In July, the Dream Chaser Program completed a CCDev2 Milestone with a demonstration of the Dream Chaser Cockpit Based Simulator. The simulator, which consists of both a physical cockpit layout and integrated simulation hardware and software, assists Dream Chaser engineers in evaluating the vehicle's characteristics during the piloted phases of flight.

The following CCDev2 Milestone was the Dream Chaser Program's Vehicle Avionics Integration Laboratory (VAIL), activated in September. VAIL is a platform for Dream Chaser avionics development, engineering testing, and integration, and will also be used for verification and validation of avionics and software. The lab is linked to the Cockpit Based Simulator hardware and software for integrated system testing.

Jim Voss, Vice President of SNC's Space Exploration Systems said, "The Dream Chaser team, which includes SNC as well as our industry teammates and our NASA partners, has made tremendous progress over the last four months. Our simulator and avionics lab give us the ability to do engineering evaluations of our complex systems. These successful Milestones, completed on time and within budget, reflect the rapid progress possible in the NASA Commercial Crew Program."

The Dream Chaser team is on schedule to achieve all CCDev2 Milestones as well as complete additional tasks to further advance the development of the space system. In addition to the high-altitude flight test, the Dream Chaser Program will conduct a system-level Preliminary Design Review (PDR) before the end of CCDev2. Through the development of the Dream Chaser Space System, SNC is positioned to quickly restore U.S. capability to safely transport humans and cargo to and from the ISS and return them safely to Earth.

&gt;

post-347280-0-01321300-1321338465.png

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good news, this is shaping up to be a very interesting platform. why wait till 2014 for the Atlas launch?

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