Dream Chaser


Dream Chaser is a reusable lifting-body space plane designed to resupply the International Space Station with both pressurized and unpressurized cargo. It is being developed by Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) Space Systems.

Dreamchaser Landing Picture

Dream Chaser vehicle landing…an artist’s depiction

Dream Chaser was originally designed to carry from two to seven crew and cargo to and from low Earth orbit. It was part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program to supply crew and cargo to the International Space Station. In 2014 NASA awarded crew carrying contacts to Boeing and SpaceX and it lost out.

It maybe used for other missions in Earth orbit like serving the Hubble Space Telescope.


Dream Chaser space plane vehicle design is derived from NASA’s HL-20 which had years of development, analysis and wind tunnel testing by the Langley Research Center.

Dream Chaser might be launched vertically either on a Atlas V rocket or Ariane-5. It will be capable of free flight in low Earth orbit and of docking to the International Space Station and other orbital destinations.

When returning to Earth from space it will use a low-impact horizontal landing on a conventional runway. The vehicle has a large cross-range with frequent landing opportunities. It is designed for simple maintenance and quick turnaround.

The vehicle has a low-g reentry (< 1.5 gs) which protects crew and science experiment return samples.

The spacecraft has crew safety features such as non-toxic propulsion systems. The on-board propulsion system is derived from SNC’s SpaceShipOne and SpaceShipTwo hybrid rocket motor technology.

The first orbital flight test of the Dream Chaser is not expected before 2021. A fleet of Dream Chaser spaceplanes maybe built in the future.

Vehicle refurbishment between flights will be performed at Kennedy Space Center, Florida.

Dream Chaser is smaller than NASA’s Space Shuttle.

Shooting Star Module

Shooting Star will attach to the back of the company’s Dream Chaser spacecraft. The cargo module will deliver more than 12,000 pounds of supplies and other cargo to the International Space Station for NASA as part of the Commercial Resupply Services-2 contract. When the space plane re-enters Earth’s atmosphere, the Shooting Star will detach and disintegrate.


Unmanned Cargo Vehicle:

Payload Capacity on the space plane: 900 kg (2000 lbs)
Shooting Star Module payload: 4500 kg (10,000 lbs)

Crew Version:

Crew: Up to 7.
Length: 9m
Wing Span: 7.00 m
Mass: 11,340 kg
Volume: 16.00 m3


Endurance: At least 210 days
Re-entry: Less than 1.5 g


* The Dream Chaser was publicly announced on 20 September, 2004 as candidate for NASA’s Vision for Space Exploration and later Commercial Orbital Transportation Services Program (COTS).

* SpaceDev was acquired by Sierra Nevada Corporation in December 2008. On 1 February, 2010, Sierra Nevada Corporation was awarded $20 million in seed money under NASA’s Commercial Crew Development (CCDev) phase 1 program for the development of the Dream Chaser.

NASA Langley’s original HL-20 team made to the successful Dream Chaser Flight Vehicle Captive Carry test completed on 29 May, 2012. This test marked the first full-scale flight of the HL-20-derived vehicle, as well as the beginning of the Dream Chaser’s flight test program. The flight met all the pre-established flight test goals and was a significant step towards preparing the vehicle for an autonomous Approach and Landing Test (ALT).

* On 12 June 2012, Sierra Nevada Corporation’s (SNC) Space Systems announced the commemoration of the fifth year of its very successful relationship with NASA Langley Research Center as partners in the design and development of the Dream Chaser Space System (DCSS). SNC and NASA Langley joined forces to update NASA’s HL-20 lifting body vehicle design into SNC’s Dream Chaser orbital crew vehicle, which is being developed as part of NASA’s venture into commercially provided crew transport.

Sierra Nevada Corporation and NASA’s Langley Research Center announced five years of partnership on the Dream Chaser Space System.

* In April 2013 SNC’s Hybrid Rocket Engines power SpaceShipTwo on its First Powered Flight Test.

* In June 2013 Sierra Nevada Corporation began Dream Chaser Main Hybrid Rocket Motor Testing.

* On 29 June 2013, Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) participated in the Space Shuttle Atlantis grand opening weekend by unveiling a new 1/3 scale Dream Chaser model that will remain on display at the Kennedy Space Center’s Visitors Complex indefinitely.

* In December 2014, Sierra Nevada proposed a cargo version of its Dream Chaser crew vehicle for NASA Commercial Resupply Services 2 (CRS2) consideration for the International Space Station.

*  In January 2016, NASA announced that Dream Chaser had been awarded a minimum of 6 resupply missions to the International Space Station (ISS) under CRS2. The cargo Dream Chaser will feature foldable wings that fit within a 5m cargo fairing of the launch vehicle.

* In September 2016 it was announced the United Nations will send its First Mission to Space in 2021 on a 14 day mission to low-Earth orbit. All United Nations member states will be able to propose payloads.

* In February 2017 there was talk of Dream Chaser spacecraft possibly being used for a Hubble repair mission.

* In 2020 it was announced Tenacity is the name of the first orbital Dream Chaser space plane.

Did you know?

* Dream Chaser was the winner of two NASA Commercial Crew Development Awards, totalling $100 Million.


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