SNC Designs Dream Chaser Variant for Stratolaunch

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

SPARKS, Nev., Sept. 30, 2014 – Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) today announced a design for an integrated system for human spaceflight that can be launched to low Earth orbit (LEO) using Stratolaunch System’s air launch architecture and a scale version of SNC’s Dream Chaser® spacecraft.

The Dream Chaser is a reusable, lifting-body spacecraft capable of crewed or autonomous flight. Dream Chaser is the only lifting-body spacecraft capable of a runway landing, anywhere in the world. Stratolaunch Systems is a Paul G. Allen project dedicated to developing an air-launch system that will revolutionize space transportation by providing orbital access to space at lower costs, with greater safety and more flexibility.

As designed, the Dream Chaser-Stratolauncher human spaceflight system can carry a crew of three astronauts to LEO destinations. This versatile system can also be tailored for un-crewed space missions, including science missions, light cargo transportation or suborbital point-to-point transportation. The scaled crewed spacecraft design is based on SNC’s full-scale Dream Chaser vehicle which, for the past four years, has undergone development and flight tests as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.

Chuck Beames, president, Vulcan Aerospace Corp and executive director for Stratolaunch Systems said, “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.”

“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.

In addition to supporting development of human spaceflight capability, SNC studied satellite launch options and mechanisms, as well as point-to-point transportation options using the Stratolaunch launch system with a Dream Chaser spacecraft derivative. The Stratolaunch system is uniquely designed to allow for maximum operational flexibility and payload delivery from several possible operational sites, while minimizing mission constraints such as range availability and weather.

SNC and Stratolaunch Systems will present more detailed information on Dream Chaser-Stratolauncher at the 65th International Astronautical Congress in Toronto, Canada, on October 1, 2014 at 9:45 am ET in Room 701B.

About Stratolaunch Systems

Founded in 2011 by philanthropist and entrepreneur Paul G. Allen, Stratolaunch Systems is developing an air-launch system that will revolutionize space transportation by providing orbital access to space at lower costs, with greater safety and more flexibility. The system will allow for maximum operational flexibility and payload delivery from several possible operational sites, while minimizing mission constraints such as range availability and weather. The system is made up of three primary elements: a carrier aircraft, which is being designed by Scaled Composites; a multi-stage rocket system, which is being developed by Orbital Sciences; and an orbital payload. Initial efforts will focus on unmanned payloads, with human flights following as safety, reliability, and operability are demonstrated. Stratolaunch is based in Huntsville, Alabama with assembly facilities in Mojave, California.

About Sierra Nevada Corporation’s Space Systems

Sierra Nevada Corporation’s Space Systems business area based in Louisville, Colorado, designs and manufactures advanced spacecraft, space vehicles, rocket motors and spacecraft subsystems and components for the U.S. Government, commercial customers as well as for the international market.  SNC’s Space Systems has more than 25 years of space heritage and has participated in over 400 successful space missions through the delivery of over 4,000 systems, subsystems and components.  During its history, SNC’s Space Systems has concluded over 70 programs for NASA and over 50 other clients. For more information about SNC’s Space Systems visit www.sncspace.com and follow us at Facebook.com/SNCSpaceSystems.