Dream Chaser

It flew Saturday for the first time in four years. It seemed to be successful, and Sirangelo said that it looks like no more drop tests will be needed prior to flight (it apparently flew with its orbital thermal protection system). Ken Chang has the story.

10 comments on this post.
  1. MfK:

    That was a beautiful flight, and I agree with Sirangelo that nothing more is needed. The control laws for this lifting body are the most studied of almost any aircraft prior to operation, and it is obvious (as it actually was the first flight) that they have this nailed. Come on, folks, let’s do this thing!

  2. Godzilla:

    I did not know that NASA had given SNC a contract for six flights. This looks like great news. Like you guys said, the BOR-4/HL-20 shape has been extensively studied, I think the Russians had plans to use it as a small Shuttle (Spiral) in a two-stage vehicle. The vehicle was a kind of ape project of the Dyna-Soar, before they decided to ape the Space Shuttle in its final configuration, and we ended with the mammoth design that was Energia/Buran.

    I think it is a good idea for NASA to fund this just to prove that it works. I’m not a fan of winged designs, but these lifting body shape designs have potential for the transport of people to/from Earth. They are able to provide a smoother ride, with lower g’s, than a capsule, so there’s a definite benefit of them for these kinds of applications. Testing Dream Chaser with cargo is a low risk approach that is good use of the money. You basically pay for test flights and get something out of them.

  3. Godzilla:

    There still remains the question of how well it will fly on top of a launcher stack without launcher modification though. That is the reason Boeing launches the X-37 inside an aeroshell. If someone can prove you don’t need the aeroshell, or that you can use a regular launcher with minimum level of modification, then there’s a potential for making vehicles much larger in terms of habitable space than the X-37 with regular launchers. It’s exciting times to be in, with both this, and the Falcon, and possibly the next generation SpaceX vehicle based on Raptor, whatever that turns out to be.

  4. Larry J:

    They intend to launch Dream Chaser on an Atlas 552 inside of a payload fairing. They’ve redesigned the fins to fold so they’ll fit inside.

  5. Godzilla:

    Ah well… That takes some of the interest out this to make I guess, but it also retires some of the risk.

  6. Godzilla:

    I nearly forgot to mention Dragon V2.0. Although the deletion of the powered landings kinda damped my (flowing) enthusiasm for it.

  7. Laura Montgomery:

    Does Dream Chaser have an N number on it?

  8. JP Gibb:

    I looked over the pics on Ars, and I don’t see one. I’ll admit I’m a bit fuzzy on this, but as an unmanned test article, does it even need one?

  9. Laura Montgomery:

    Not if it’s a public aircraft. If it doesn’t have an N number they’re treating it as a public aircraft. When it’s launching or reentering it’s under different laws. I’ve been puzzling over whether it will need an FAA license. Certainly for reentry as long as SNC is carrying out the reentry, but for launch?

    I looked on the FAA’s registry and didn’t see Dream Chaser listed.

  10. wodun:

    NASA has not yet chosen a date for that flight, but Mr. Sirangelo said that it would likely be in the second quarter of 2020.

    2020 is looking to be a busy year.

    If NASA agrees that this test was sufficient, the test vehicle will go into storage museum.

    FTFY

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