NASA has confirmed the first launch for Sierra Nevada Corporation’s (SNC) Dream Chaser vehicle. Under NASA’s Commercial Resupply Services Contract 2, the company’s primary transport vehicle will complete a resupply mission for the International Space Station (ISS) by late 2020.
“SNC has been successfully completing critical design milestones as approved by NASA, and having a timetable for the first launch is another important step achieved for us,” explained an official press release quoting owner and CEO of SNC, Fatih Ozmen. “The team has worked so hard to get to this point and we can’t wait to fulfil this mission for NASA.”
The 2020 ISS resupply mission will see the Dream Chaser vehicle transporting 5,500 (12,125lbs) kilograms of supplies and scientific material to the station. The vehicle will then remain attached to the ISS for an extended period allowing unloading and the use of the vehicle as a flying laboratory. SNC’s Dream Chaser will then return to Earth landing at the Kennedy Space Center’s historic Shuttle Landing Facility (SLF).
The Dream Chaser’s ability to land at SLF is one of its greatest assets. Landing will allow science payloads returning from the ISS to be retrieved immediately without the delay a tradition splashdown landing imposes. This crucial feature of the Dream Chaser could award SNC with a crucial advantage over other operators applying for ISS resupply contracts.
“The Dream Chaser is going to be a tremendous help to the critical science and research happening on the space station,” said SNC’s Mark Sirangelo. “Receiving NASA’s Authority to Proceed is a big step for the program. We can’t wait to see the vehicle return to Kennedy Space Center to a runway landing, allowing immediate access to the science payloads being returned from the station.”