Dream Chaser spaceplane updates (thread 2)


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FloatingFatMan

I loved the shuttle. The whole design and concept of the reusable space vehicle was awesome, but yes. It lived way way beyond where it should have been retired, and was the victim of governmental penny pinching. It's great to see a new space craft taking inspiration from that ship.

I was actually AT the launch of the Challenger. To this day, I can still remember every second of that launch, from lift-off to the tragic end, as if it only happened yesterday. I haven't been able to watch a mission launch since. :(

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DocM

I was in the OR that day. We were almost done when one of the floating nurses came in with the news and everyone just stopped, stunned. Watching the replays there were a lot of tears.

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DocM

Astronaut Rex Walheim the Dream Chaser flight simulator

752458main_2013-2385.jpg

Astronaut Jack Fischer flying a simulated Dream Chaser mission

752454main_JACKFISCHER3.jpg

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DocM

3168x1951 image of DC....

http://www.aviationweek.com/awmobile/Article.aspx?id=/article-xml/AW_06_03_2013_p54-582468.xml

Sierra Nevada Builds Up To Lifting-Body Drop Tests

Source: Aviation Week & Space Technology

June 03, 2013

Credit: Guy Norris/Aviation Week

Guy Norris Los Angeles

Just over 50 years ago a high-powered Pontiac convertible charged across Rogers Dry Lakebed at Edwards AFB, Calif., towing a primitive lifting body. This month, Sierra Nevada Corp's (SNC) Dream Chaser, a descendent of the pioneering M2-F1, will repeat almost identical tests at NASA Dryden Flight Research Center as part of a program aimed at an orbital demonstration before 2017.

While the Pontiac and plywood-and-steel-built M2-F1 of 1963 have given way to a Ford truck and the advanced composite structure of the Dream Chaser, the aim of proving the viability of a lifting body for space transport is unchanged. Sierra Nevada's test comes as part of NASA's competitive Commercial Crew Program (CCP) to develop U.S. human space launch capability to low Earth orbit. It is widely viewed as providing the best chance yet for the first practical application of a design that can reenter the atmosphere and land on a runway using lift generated by the shape of the airframe rather than wings?the mode used by the space shuttle and Boeing's X-37.

Lifting-body development reached a dead end in the 1970s when the larger-scale requirements of NASA and the U.S. Air Force drove the designers of the space shuttle toward a winged reusable spacecraft. With the priority of the CCP focused on crew and smaller payloads, SNC revived NASA's HL-20 lifting-body design to develop the Dream Chaser, which is capable of carrying seven astronauts to orbit. The vehicle is designed to launch from Cape Canaveral atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V 402.

Sierra Nevada is competing against alternative capsule designs developed by Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) and Boeing under a $212.5 million Commercial Crew Integrated Capability contract awarded in August 2012. The engineering test article (ETA) arrived at Dryden in mid-May from Sierra Nevada's Space Systems facility in Louisville, Colo., and is starting initial tow tests following reassembly and integrated systems testing.

The build-up to approach and landing tests (ALT) starts with a 10-mph tow behind a truck, followed by a gradual step-up in speed beyond 20 mph at intervals to 60 mph to ?check the brakes and see how the guidance, navigation and control (GNC) operates,? says SNC Spacecraft Advanced Development director John Curry. Beyond this speed, the tow line will be cast off to demonstrate the ability of the steering and GNC system to track down the runway centerline. The Dream Chaser has a conventional wheeled main landing gear and a SpaceShipTwo-like retractable nose skid.

Other system checks prior to upcoming drop tests from a Sikorsky S-64 Skycrane include ground test of the flight termination and parachute deployment system. The Dream Chaser ETA, which flew a year ago in Colorado in a series of captive-carry flights slung below an S-64, is likely to continue ground taxi tests through July. ALT work, modeled after the initial flight-tests of the space shuttle demonstrator in 1977, is expected to start in August, with several drops set to occur from the helicopter hovering more than 10,000-ft. over the lakebed.

The flights will lead to high-altitude tests up to 40,000 ft. which will be conducted using a piloted space-capable flight-test vehicle now in initial assembly at Lockheed Martin's Michoud facility in New Orleans. If adequate funding is approved for the CCP, tow tests behind a C-17 could occur in late 2014.

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DocM

Dream Chaser from the nose end.

Red items are "remove before flight" protection covers. The nose spike houses sensors that are used to detect air speed and other flight characteristics during early test flights.

DreamChaser-nose.jpg

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DocM

Tail end showing the docking hatch and hybrid rocket** engines. The heat shield is a lightweight ablative good for several flights that can be quickly replaced as a single module. This speeds turnaround and could support a high flight rate.

** a hybrid tocket uses a solid fuel grain and liquid oxidizer. They combine the relative simplicity of a solid with the ability to shut down, restart, and throttle of a liquid rocket. These are made by SNC's SpaceDev division.

dreamchaser-rear.jpg

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DocM

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

Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) is putting its Dream Chaser flight vehicle through a series of ground tests at NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center in California in preparation for upcoming captive-carry and free-flight tests.

During two tow tests, a pickup truck pulled the Dream Chaser flight vehicle on Dryden's concrete runways to validate the performance of the spacecraft's nose skid, brakes, tires and other systems. The company has performed the tests at 10 and 20 mph, and is working toward 40 and 60 mph tests later this month. Range and taxi tow tests are standard for winged vehicles that touch down on a runway to prove the overall spacecraft handling post-landing.

ED13-0164-064-455.gif

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DocM

Stop-action of getting Dream Chaset assembled at Dryden before testing

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FloatingFatMan

What's with all that duct tape, doc?  I mean, I know it's good stuff, but it looks like it's holding that wing on! :p

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Crisp

It's an amazing looking craft, but it still puzzles me how it's controlled on re-entry with such stubby up right wings :P

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DocM

What's with all that duct tape, doc? I mean, I know it's good stuff, but it looks like it's holding that wing on! :p

The tape covers a curing sealer and comes off before flight.

It's an amazing looking craft, but it still puzzles me how it's controlled on re-entry with such stubby up right wings :P

Dream Chaser is a lifting body, meaning it's the fuselage that provides the lift and those winglets act more like angled horizontal stabilizers. The rudder is comparably tiny.

During re-entry lifting bodies are very stable and controllable with a large cross-range capability, so much so Dream Chaser can land at any airfield within 1,500 km of its orbital track so long as it's long enough. Most commercial airfields will do. Makes it great for med-evac since it only generates 1.5G during re-entry and can be trucked back out.

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DocM

MDA is a Canadian company, so welcome to the Commercial Crew program Canada :d

http://www.mdacorporation.com/corporate/news/

MDA to develop concept to provide communications capability for commercial shuttle replacement

Richmond, BC - MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates Ltd. ("MDA" or the "Company") (TSX: MDA), a global communications and information company, announced today that it has signed a US$1.7 million contract with Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) to develop an engineering concept solution to provide on-board communication signal processing capabilities for its Dream Chaser? crew transportation vehicle. SNC is one of only three companies funded under NASA?s Commercial Crew Program aimed at developing a reusable spacecraft to transport crew and critical cargo to the International Space Station and then return to Earth.

If successful, this work could form the basis for an operational communications solution to be incorporated into the future reusable crew transportation spacecraft.

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FloatingFatMan

The more, the merrier! :)

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DocM

Dream Chaser Rolls Through Ground Tests

Published on Aug 13, 2013

Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) put its Dream Chaser flight vehicle through a series of ground tests at NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif. The 10, 20, 40 and 60 mile per hour range and taxi tow tests along concrete runways are helping the company assess the performance of the winged vehicle's braking and landing systems. SNC's ongoing development work supports its funded Space Act Agreement with NASA's Commercial Crew Program (CCP) during the agency's Commercial Crew Integrated Capability (CCiCap) phase. SNC currently is one of three companies working with NASA during CCiCap to return a national capability to launch astronauts to low-Earth orbit from U.S. soil.

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FloatingFatMan

Hey Doc... With no nose wheel, how do they steer it?  That looked like it was veering off at least once in that vid....

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DocM

No nose wheel - it uses a skid to save weight like SS2. Every kg saved is another kg of payload to orbit. Steering is by differential braking of the main gears. The swerve was intentional - a test. When they tow it to the hangar they put a wheeled dolly under the skid.

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FloatingFatMan

I knew about the skid (I did say :p ), but not about using braking on the main gear to steer.  Cool.

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DocM

I know you know. The extra info was for casual thread followers who don't already know the why's of skid vs. nose wheel.

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DocM

Closing in fast on a drop-glide-landing test at NASA's Dryden test facility

Sierra Nevada Corporation?s Dream Chaser? Takes Flight at NASA?s Dryden Flight Research Center

Sparks, NV ? August 22, 2013 ? Today Sierra Nevada Corporation?s (SNC) Dream Chaser? spacecraft successfully completed a full-scale captive-carry test. The test in which the Dream Chaser was carried under an Erickson Air-Crane helicopter was conducted at NASA?s Dryden Flight Research Center in Edwards, Calif.

The captive-carry test was performed in order to test and validate several of the Dream Chaser systems and sub-systems prior to the upcoming free-flight test. The software tested included: flight computer; guidance, navigation and control; aero surfaces; and the landing gear and nose skid, which was deployed during flight. In May 2012, SNC performed a similar, but less extensive, captive-carry test in Broomfield, Colo., under the Commercial Crew Development 2 (CCDev2) agreement with NASA?s Commercial Crew Program.

?Today is the first time we have flown a fully functional Dream Chaser spacecraft, and we are very pleased with the results,? said Mark Sirangelo, corporate vice president and head of SNC?s Space Systems. ?Our team represents the very best in collaboration between industry and government. We have worked closely with NASA, Dryden and the Air Force to reach this important milestone in our flight test program. We will continue to work together to prepare for the approach-and-landing free-flight test. We look forward to seeing Dream Chaser land on the same runway as the space shuttle orbiters once did as we move forward in the development of the next-generation crew transportation vehicle.?

The captive-carry test is just one in a series of tests completed at Dryden. To date, the Dream Chaser team has completed ground taxi- and tow-tests, evaluated the performance of the main landing gear and completed a flight test readiness review. All systems have been verified and the Dream Chaser flight vehicle will undergo final preparations for the upcoming approach-and-landing test (ALT) scheduled for fall 2013.

"It's great to see real American-made hardware taking flight right here in the U.S.," said Ed Mango, CCP manager. "This is just the start of an exciting flight test campaign for SNC's Dream Chaser at Dryden."

SNC is one of three companies funded under NASA?s Commercial Crew Integrated Capability (CCiCap) initiative to develop a next-generation crew transportation vehicle and the only reusable, lifting body vehicle with runway landing capability. The Dream Chaser space vehicle is on the forefront of the commercial human spaceflight industry, offering safe, reliable, and cost-effective crew and critical cargo transportation to low-Earth orbit.

http://www.sncorp.com/press_more_info.php?id=563

dccaptive1.jpg

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Gladiatorus

Dream Chaser is based on the NASA HL-20 and its bigger brother the HL-42,

 

I knew it was directly derived from the MTF2, HL10 and X24A the first time I saw it.

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DocM

It also shares a lot of heritage with the Russian BOR-4, an unmanned testbed for the heat shield tiles on Russia's Buran space shuttle. The US reverse engineered BOR-4 into HL-20/HL-42 after an Australian P-3 Orion photographed its recovery after a launch.

Inside of Dream Chaser the Sierra Nevada engineers have inscribed all of the BOR-4 engineers names as a tribute. They made a point to visit the surviving ones a few years ago to show them Dream Chaser and tell them of the tribute. The Russians were ecstatic that Sierra Nevada had picked up the BOR-4 torch.

IMO very classy.

BOR-4

300px-BOR-4S.jpg

BOR-4 recovery

bor4p32.jpg

Buran

energia-buran2.jpg

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DocM

Video of the DC captive carry flight, a rehersal for an actual 14,000 ft drop-glide test.

The tiny drogue chute is to keep DC aligned at speeds too low for its control surfaces to have sufficient authority. Later high altitude drops (50,000 ft +/-) will be done, carrier aircraft unlnown, including some with a crew and under rocket power to much higher altitudes.

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DocM

http://www.flightglobal.com/news/articles/lockheed-to-build-second-dream-chaser-airframe-for-sierra-nevada-381679/

Sierra Nevada has enlisted Lockheed Martin to build the airframe for its second Dream Chaser winged orbital vehicle and to participate in its certification process with NASA.

"For so many years Lockheed Martin has meant so much to the aerospace industry," says Sierra Nevada vice president Mark Sirangelo. "We've been so impressed by that work and the history and work behind that. Over the last several months [Lockheed vice president] Jim Crocker and I have been working together to say, how can we really leverage that development?"

Lockheed will build the airframe at its Michaud, Louisiana facility, where NASA once built external fuel tanks for the Space Shuttle. Several other facilities, including a modeling and simulation laboratory and composite manufacturing plants will be used for various relevant components and activities.

Lockheed manufactures both satellites and launch vehicle - including the Atlas V, atop which Dream Chaser will launch -- and is slated to build the Orion crew capsule for beyond-low-Earth-orbit missions. As such the company has a large infrastructure for building and testing crewed space vehicles.

There were multiple bids for the subcontract, "but in the end there was significant advantage from Lockheed, which is why we made that choice," says Sirangelo.

The Dream Chaser is one of three spacecraft funded by NASA's commercial crew integrated capability (CCiCap) programme to develop crew transportation to the International Space Station. The other two are SpaceX's Dragon and Boeing's CST-100.

The first Dream Chaser is slated to begin flight testing within two months, comprising at least two glide flights. The spacecraft will be dropped from a helicopter at 12,000ft and land on a runway at Edwards AFB, California. The second spacecraft, for which Lockheed will build components, is slated to be the orbital test vehicle. Orbital flights are expected to begin within two years.

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DocM

https://twitter.com/jeff_foust/status/390869380579733506

Jeff Foust ?@jeff_foust

Lee Archambault, Sierra Nevada Corp: hoping to get back out to Dryden soon to resume Dream Chaser testing now that shutdown is over. #ISPCS

https://twitter.com/jeff_foust/status/390869812882448384

Jeff Foust ?@jeff_foust

Archambault: "very close" to our first Dream Chaser drop test; would have taken place already had it not been to shutdown. #ISPCS

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