The Dream Chaser is a reusable crewed space shuttle which the Sierra Nevada Corporation is currently developing. The company hopes that it will carry people into space in collaboration with the Stratolaunch massive carrier plane, invented by aviation legend Burt Rutan and Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) co-founder Paul Allen.
NASA rejects Dream Chaser
Just a few days ago NASA rejected the Sierra Nevada Corporation’s bid for a Commercial Crew Transportation contract, instead announcing its decision to work with The Boeing Company (NYSE:BA) and SpaceX. Sierra Nevada has since announced that it will challenge the decision in court.
In the face of that decision, it has been announced that a scaled-down version of the Dream Chaser will be built, which will be able to carry three people into space with the help of the Stratolaunch plane.
“Combining a scaled version of SNC’s Dream Chaser with the Stratolaunch air launch system could provide a highly responsive capability with the potential to reach a variety of LEO destinations and return astronauts or payloads to a U.S. runway within 24 hours,” said Chuck Beames, executive director of Stratolaunch Systems
Sierra Nevada – Stratolaunch partnership: A match made in heaven?
The Stratolaunch will be the largest aircraft ever constructed, powered by six Boeing 747 engines. It has been under development since 2011 and is designed to carry a rocket, or potentially the Dream Chaser, to high altitude in preparation for a launch into orbit.
In order to work with the Stratolaunch the Dream Chaser will be downsized. The original model is able to carry seven crew and designed to launch from an Atlas V rocket. Sierra Nevada Corp is presumably hoping to keep its Dream Chaser vehicle alive by adapting it to the needs of a new client.
“This relationship would expand our portfolio to include the highly flexible Stratolaunch system for launching reusable crewed or uncrewed spacecraft, or for rapid satellite constellation deployment,” said Mark Sirangelo, corporate vice president of SNC’s Space Systems.