Sierra Nevada’s Dream Chaser Shuttle Based on Abandoned NASA Project

Sierra Nevada Corporation's Dream Chaser - a seven-person space shuttle designed for orbital flight.

Sierra Nevada Building On NASA Design
Aviation Week

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 NASA’s HL-20 development effort is publicly available.

“We could take a vehicle that had almost 10 years of development and hundreds of millions of dollars of work,” says Mark N. Sirangelo, corporate vice president of Sierra Nevada Space Systems. “There 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,“ Sirangelo says.

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