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Dream Chaser Spaceplane Gets Ready for Its First Flight to ISS

Sierra Nevada Corporation revealed on Tuesday, May 4th, that it will land the Dream Chaser spaceplane in Florida in 2022 as part of NASA's Commercial Resupply Services-2 (CRS-2) contract. Starting next year, the aircraft will have at least six cargo missions to and from the space station.
SNC's Dream Chaser Spacecraft at NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center 12 photos
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Under the CRS-2 contract, NASA selected Dream Chaser to provide cargo delivery, return, and disposal services for the ISS. Since it uses non-toxic propellants, cargo is readily available upon touchdown, and the thing is also the only aircraft capable of landing on a runway, just like the space shuttles once did. The spaceplane can be reused at least 15 times.

Dream Chaser, a spacecraft that resembles a NASA space shuttle, is designed to fly on the top of a conventional rocket and land on a runway like a regular airplane. The cargo spaceplane will have folding wings, which will fit into a 5 meters (16 feet) diameter payload fairing to meet CRS-2 requirements, as opposed to the crewed Dream Chaser, which will launch without a fairing.

An expendable cargo module dubbed Shooting Star will be attached to the back of the aircraft, increasing uplift capability and allowing it to deliver a total uplift of 5,000 kg (11,000 lbs) of pressurized and 500 kg (1,100 lbs) of unpressurized cargo to the ISS, including food, water, equipment, and scientific tests.

The Shooting Star transport vehicle then departs with waste from the ISS, which burns up upon re-entry into the atmosphere. Dream Chaser will return back home with a soft runway landing and will be reused for its next mission.

Dream Chaser is capable of landing at any Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) licensed landing site with a decent 3000 m (10,000 feet) runway that lands standard commercial flights. Its low-g entry and runway touchdown cover critical payloads while also allowing for immediate access to them.

press release

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