Shake of Dream Chaser spaceplane, and its preparations for launch

The Dream Chaser spaceplane has passed vibration tests. Sierra Space, the company that developed it, assures that it is fully ready to make its first flight into orbit this year.

Dream Chaser in the assembly shop. Source:

Tests of new space orbiters

Sierra Space’s Dream Chaser, a shuttle-like aircraft, has been tested on NASA’s powerful vibration facility, which simulates conditions during launch and re-entry into the atmosphere. This was announced on Thursday by officials on the eve of the first flight to the ISS scheduled for this year.

The first spaceplane from the planned line, Tenacity, was completed at the company’s factory in Louisville, Colorado in November, and then shipped to NASA’s Neil Armstrong Test Center in Sandusky, Ohio. 

There it was subjected to mechanical vibration on the world’s most powerful spacecraft testing facility. The spacecraft successfully passed this test, but it was not the last one. Next, it will be placed in a huge ground-based vacuum chamber, where it will experience the ultra-low and very high temperatures of space, as well as low atmospheric pressure.

Features of the new spacecraft

“We are really excited that this year, we enter orbital operations for NASA. It is a year that we change how we connect Earth and space,” Sierra Space’s CEO Tom Vice told reporters at a press event where the spacecraft was presented in its launch configuration, connected to the Shooting Star cargo module.

The Dream Chaser is very similar to the Space Shuttle, the iconic NASA spacecraft that was decommissioned in 2011. But it is much smaller, flies autonomously, has an updated propulsion system based on pure hydrogen peroxide and is designed to be reused up to 15 times.

Sierra Space won a contract in 2016 to perform resupply missions for NASA on the International Space Station. The first flight will deliver cargo to the orbital complex this year. It will take its place atop the new United Launch Alliance Vulcan Centaur rocket, which made its debut flight in January.

Dream Chaser’s prospects in general

Unlike SpaceX’s Crew Dragon, a capsule that parachutes into the ocean, the Dream Chaser can theoretically land on a runway anywhere in the world, which is one of the advantages for customers buying services. Future versions will be designed to carry the crew.

NASA’s goal is to launch a private economy in low Earth orbit, which will allow the space agency to focus on more ambitious missions to the Moon and Mars, which lack commercial incentives.

According to

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