NASA has approved a potential project that would make space cargo missions easier than ever. According to the latest reports, Dream Chaser spaceplane from Sierra Nevada Corporation has received the clearance for full production from the national space agency. It means that the developers can start the full production of the spaceplane, which is expected to be served as a cargo carrier between the ISS and NASA.
Once the production starts, Sierra Nevada would need two years’ time for using it for full goods transfer. Its path of getting clearance from NASA has not been the smoothest, considering the counterparts like SpaceX and Orbital ATK. Sierra Nevada was given one of the cargo delivery private contracts for ISS cargo missions in 2016 along with the other two giants.
In the course of time, however, the Dream Chaser demo flights haven’t been that smooth. There were many instances of malfunction, one of which required a complete re-doing of the unmanned vehicle. For instance, a malfunction of the landing gear had caused the Dream Chaser vehicle to turn upside down, making things tough for the company to get the approval. Now that the approval is given, Sierra Nevada is all set.
There are a few factors that make Dream Chaser different from the other cargo-mission vehicles in use, such as Dragon and Cygnus. While Dragon and Cygnus are launched via rockets, Dream Chaser has been designed for runway landings as well. At least theoretically, the vehicle would be able to land at international airports in the country.
The Dream Chaser also has an option to be piloted, if the situation demands the same. It has been built with the basic requirements covered. For instance, the vehicle can be reused up to 15 times, carrying 5500 kg of cargo to the space in each of the trips. It’s also capable of taking 3400 kg of waste from the ISS.