Sierra Space, a commercial space company, has successfully delivered the first Dream Chaser spaceplane, named Tenacity, to NASA’s Neil Armstrong Test Facility in Sandusky, Ohio. This marks a significant milestone as Dream Chaser, the commercial spaceplane, enters its final testing phase before its inaugural flight in 2024.
The testing campaign aims to validate the spacecraft’s ability to withstand the challenges of launch and the harsh conditions of space, as it prepares for its first mission to the International Space Station under a NASA contract.
Sierra Space’s cargo module, Shooting Star, which arrived at the NASA test facility in November, will join Dream Chaser in undergoing rigorous environmental testing. The two vehicles will be stacked in launch configuration and subjected to extreme conditions, including launch vibrations, on the spacecraft shaker table located in the Mechanical Vibration Facility.
Sierra Space is dedicated to ensuring the utmost reliability of its cutting-edge technologies. The combination of Dream Chaser and the Shooting Star cargo module is set to revolutionize space transportation and pave the way for the Orbital Age – a new era of space commercialization.
Sierra Space CEO Tom Vice emphasized their commitment to providing customers with a complete turn-key solution by offering space as a service. The platform includes Dream Chaser, a highly reusable commercial spaceplane with global runway access, and the first business-ready commercial space station. This innovative approach will significantly reduce the cost of product development and manufacturing in space.
Dream Chaser boasts several unique capabilities that set it apart from other spacecraft. Unlike traditional splashdowns into the ocean, Dream Chaser can utilize global commercial runways for landing. It is designed to be highly reusable, with a minimum of 15 missions per system. The operations are fully autonomous, and it has high-capacity payload capabilities for both pressurized and unpressurized cargo. Its low G landings make it ideal for scientific experiments, cargo transportation, and crew missions. Additionally, Dream Chaser offers fast access to payloads and science upon landing, making integration into ground logistics seamless. The spacecraft also features a breakthrough green hydrogen peroxide-based propulsion system. Sierra Space is currently producing a second Dream Chaser vehicle named Reverence.
Dream Chaser was selected by NASA for cargo delivery, return, and disposal services for the International Space Station under the Commercial Resupply Services-2 (CRS-2) contract. Its high reusability and customizable design make it suitable for various applications and enable fast turnaround times to support different Low Earth Orbit (LEO) needs. The fleet of multi-mission spaceplanes is designed to transport crew and cargo to LEO and can be tailored for domestic and international customers, facilitating global operations.
The NASA Neil Armstrong Test Facility, located in Sandusky, Ohio, is an integral part of NASA’s Glenn Research Center in Cleveland. It encompasses vast acres of land and houses state-of-the-art space simulation test facilities. These facilities conduct ground tests for the U.S. and international space and aeronautics communities, making it an ideal location for testing the capabilities of Dream Chaser.