Skip to comments.New Private Space Plane Aims to Pick Up Where NASA's Shuttles Left Off
Posted on 04/26/2012 1:19:10 PM PDT by Josh Painter
The new spaceship being built by private aerospace firm Sierra Nevada Corp. may look like a miniature space shuttle, but while the design takes cues from the past, company officials are hoping this vehicle shepherds in a new era of commercial human spaceflight.
Sierra Nevada's Dream Chaser space plane is being developed to take astronauts to and from the International Space Station in low-Earth orbit. The company is aiming to begin full orbital flights in 2016.
But the Dream Chaser design, which is reminiscent of NASA's space shuttle, is actually based on a concept vehicle, called HL-20, which was first looked at by the agency in the early 1980s.
"We took it out of the NASA attic," Mark Sirangelo, chairman of Sierra Nevada, told reporters this month at the 28th National Space Symposium. "We think, in many ways, it's a terrific story. Not many things that NASA puts away or really any federal agency puts away for a long time comes out and gets to see the light of day again and gets to be built. We're pretty proud of that."
Using the HL-20 as a foundation, Sierra Nevada crafted a new and modern spacecraft that will launch initially on one of the United Launch Alliance's Atlas 5 rockets and land on a conventional runway at the end of its mission. Sirangelo said, however, that other rocket options will be considered in the future, as other options become available.
A commercial space company called SpaceDev announced plans to build the Dream Chaser vehicle in 2004. The company was later acquired by Sierra Nevada, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, and the HL-20 concept became the basis of the vehicle's design.
(Excerpt) Read more at space.com ...
space ping (hope I did that right.)
LOL. There is so much I want to say about how the “government” (a euphemism in this case) just can’t keep a “good man” down, but I will bite my tongue. There is a way around the determination of certain people to bring all down to the lowest common denominator (ie the “crabs in a barrel” effect) as long as there’s a way to keep their paws off the money.
Don’t see a crew escape system.
Next gen Executive Jet
I like the location of the docking hatch as the hardware there can be used to attach it to the booster (makes it lighter) as well as not needing TPS (Thermal Protection System) over an opening hatch.
It is a clever design and example of efficient engineering.
I am assuming this would be launched on TOP of a SpaceX dragon or maybe later some sort of Burt Rutan type carrier vehicle.
[ Dont see a crew escape system. ]
Doesn’t bloody need one if it is on top of “stack”. Unlike the shuttle which was sitting underneath/beside a huge tank of liquid H2 and O2.
If the two rockets on either side of the docking hatch can fire during launch to pull the orbiter ahead of the stack should the stack malfunction it will be LOADS more safe than the Space Shuttle.
According to the article, they’ll use an Atlas V booster for the initial flights.
On the up side, the designers and engineers and assemblers gained the knowledge of what they did, and the mistakes they made, And that real-world experience is important for the human race to keep current. Especially in the US.
P.S. A 747 could carry four of these new spaceplanes under it’s wings.
As follow-on widow maker? Killing astronauts a half dozen at time?
Right. So why did the Mercury and Gemini spacecraft have one? Why is the Orion gonna have one?
...If the two rockets on either side of the docking hatch can fire during launch to pull the orbiter ahead of the stack should the stack malfunction...
That's the Orbital Maneuvering System.
"Gentlemen, we can rebuild it. We have the technology. We have the capability to build the world's first commercial space plane. Dream Chaser will be that space plane. Better than it was before. Better, stronger, faster."