Sierra Nevada Completes Dream Chaser Flight Profile Data Review

Dream Chaser shuttle. (Credit: Sierra Nevada Corporation)
Dream Chaser shuttle. (Credit: Sierra Nevada Corporation)

Louisville, Colo., February 28, 2014 (Sierra Nevada PR) – Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) announces the successful completion of a flight-profile data review milestone for its Dream Chaser® spacecraft.

Completed under the Commercial Crew Integrated Capability (CCiCap) agreement, Milestone 4a gave engineers the opportunity to review data from the Dream Chaser flight test that was conducted at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., in collaboration with NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center. To date, SNC has completed over 70 percent of its CCiCap agreement total award value, receiving 100 percent of the milestone value awarded for each milestone completed.

The Milestone 4a flight test objectives included the collection of all nominal glide slope and other critical aerodynamic data for the Dream Chaser in-flight profile. The Dream Chaser team collected and evaluated data gathered from additional aerodynamic modeling instrumentation sensors specifically placed onto the Dream Chaser spacecraft prior to the flight test. Upon thorough post flight analysis conducted by the SNC team and review by NASA, the results validated the aerodynamic performance of the Dream Chaser and significantly matured its aerodynamic database in the subsonic region of flight. In addition to demonstrating the Dream Chaser spacecraft’s autonomous flight control system in Milestone 4a, the Dream Chaser team was able to authenticate that over 40 aerodynamic predictions from extensive analysis matched within the limits of the actual vehicle performance.

Mark Sirangelo, corporate vice president and head of SNC’s Space Systems said, “Milestone 4a proved the Dream Chaser flies well and that the path the Dream Chaser will take throughout its expected flight profile can be reliably predicted. SNC was able to show NASA that our trajectory analysis and flight performance modeling tools and techniques were able to accurately forecast the flight performance of Dream Chaser from the start of free flight through runway touchdown. Now that we have successfully passed a second flight-based milestone we have further reassurance that our vehicle design is sound and that our spacecraft can successfully fly within established and expected flight boundaries. We are now advancing and upgrading the Dream Chaser test spacecraft in preparation for additional expanded flight tests in 2014.”

SNC is working with NASA’s Commercial Crew Program to develop a safe, innovative, modern, flexible and highly-capable crew transportation system for the 21st Century. Dream Chaser provides the only reusable, human-rated lifting-body spacecraft with a commercial runway landing capability, anywhere in the world, and is on the forefront of the commercial human spaceflight industry, offering safe, reliable and cost-effective crew and critical cargo transportation to low-Earth orbit.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This claim is interesting: “To date, SNC has completed over 70 percent of its CCiCap agreement total award value, receiving 100 percent of the milestone value awarded for each milestone completed.” [My emphasis]

Not exactly. Milestone 4 originally covered multiple flight tests for a total value of $15 million. It’s only recently that this milestone was split into Milestones 4A (worth $7 million) and 4B (worth $8 million). The reason is that the Dream Chaser engineering test model crashed after the landing gear malfunctioned. The vehicle needed repairs, so the company was unable to conduct any additional tests last fall. Additional flight tests are now scheduled for sometime in the third quarter of the year (July or August).

Sierra Nevada Commercial Crew Milestones Status
Award Period: August 2012 – August 2014
Total Milestones: 13
Milestones Completed: 8
Milestones Pending: 5
Total Possible Award: $227.5 Million
Total Awarded to Date: $164.5 Million

Total Award Remaining: $63 Million

No.DescriptionOriginal DateStatusAmount
1.Program Implementation Plan Review. This is an initial meeting to describe the plan for implementing the Commercial Crew Integrated Capability Program, to include management planning for achieving CDR; Design, Development, Testing, and Evaluation activities; risk management to include mitigation plans, and certification activities planned during the CCiCap Base Period.August 2012Complete$30 Million
2.Integrated System Baseline Review. The Integrated System Baseline Review (ISBR) demonstrates the maturity of the baseline CTS integrated vehicle and operations design of the Dream Chaser Space System (DCSS) consisting of Dream Chaser spacecraft, Atlas launch vehicle, Mission Systems, and Ground Systems supports proceeding with the detailed CTS design.October 2012Complete$45 Million
3.Integrated System Safety Analysis Review #1. The purpose of the Integrated System Safety Analysis Review #1 is to demonstrate that the systems safety analysis of the Dream Chaser Space System (DCSS) has been advanced to a preliminary maturity level, incorporating changes resulting from the Preliminary Design Review, The DCSS consists of the Dream Chaser spacecraft, launch vehicle, ground systems and mission systems.January 2013Complete$20 Million
4A.Engineering Test Article Flight Testing. At least one free flight of the Engineering Test Article to characterize the aerodynamics and controllability of the Dream Chaser Orbital Vehicle outer mold line configuration during the subsonic approach and landing phase.April 2013Complete$7 Million
5.SNC Investment Financing #1. This funding represents SNC’s commitment for significant investing financing. SNC to provide program co-investment of [REDACTED].July 2013Complete$12.5 Million
6.Integrated System Safety Analysis Review #2. The purpose of the Integrated System Safety Analysis Review #2 is to demonstrate that the systems safety analysis of the Dream Chaser Space System.October 2013Complete$20 Million
7.Certification Plan Review. The Certification Plan Review defines the top level strategy for certification of the DCSS that meets the objectives for the ISS Design Reference Mission described in CCT-DRM-1110 Rev Basic. SNC shall conduct a review of the verification and validation activities planned for the Dream Chaser Space System (Dream Chaser spacecraft, Atlas launch vehicle, Ground and Mission Systems).November 2013Complete$25 Million
10A.Critical Design Review Incremental Design Review #1. This is the first of a series of reviews that support the Dream Chaser Space System ICDR.October 2013Complete
$5 Million
TOTAL TO DATE
(OUT OF $227.5 Million):
$164.5
Million
4B.Engineering Test Article Flight Testing. The purpose of these additional free flight test(s) is to reduce risk due to aerodynamic uncertainties in the subsonic approach and landing phase of flight and to mature the Dream Chaser aerodynamic database. A minimum of one and up to five additional Engineering Test Article free flight test(s) will be completed to characterize the aerodynamics and controllability of the Dream Chaser Orbital Vehicle outer mold line configuration during the subsonic approach and landing phase.April 2013Pending 3Q 2014
$8 Million
8.Wind Tunnel Testing. The purpose of this testing is to reduce risk on both the DC vehicle and the DC/Atlas stack by maturing the DC and DCiAtias aerodynamic databases, providing improved fidelity in Reynolds number effects and control surface interactions, and will help determine pre-CDR required updates to the OML or control surface geometry if required.February 2014Pending 1Q 2014
$20 Million
9.Risk Reduction and TRL Advancement Testing. The purpose of these tests is to significantly mature all Dream Chaser systems to or beyond a CDR level.May 2014Pending 2Q 2014
$17 Million
9A.Main Propulsion and RCS Risk Reduction and TRL Advancement Testing. The purpose of these tests is to significantly mature the Dream Chaser Main Propulsion System and Reaction Control System to or beyond a CDR level. Risk reduction and Technology Readiness Level improvement tests will be completed for these systems.May 2014Pending 2Q 2014
$8
Million
15A.Reaction Control System Testing — Incremental Test No. 1. The purpose of the test on this pre-qualification unit is to support eventual qualification/certification by testing the thruster in flight-like environments.July 2014Pending 3Q 2014
$10 Million
TOTAL:$227.5 Million