Sierra Nevada Building On NASA Design
The Colorado-based company is modeling Dream Chaser on the HL-20 lifting-body vehicle that NASA started as a potential International Space Station (ISS) crew rescue vehicle, which would have been able to transport a full station crew fleeing an emergency to a horizontal landing on runways anywhere in the world.
Now Sierra Nevada wants to use the HL-20s lifting-body shape to go in the other direction, riding an Atlas V rocket to orbit with an up to seven-person crew for the ISS, or with space-suited specialists trained to service other spacecraft in orbit. Because it was publicly funded, data from NASAâ€™s HL-20 development effort is publicly available.
â€œWe could take a vehicle that had almost 10 years of development and hundreds of millions of dollars of work,â€ says Mark N. Sirangelo, corporate vice president of Sierra Nevada Space Systems. â€œThere are 1,400 wind-tunnel tests, [and] a variety of work that was being done. We largely kept the outer mold-line of the vehicle intact, so we were able to utilize much of the [previous] research,â€œ Sirangelo says.
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