Dream Chaser Spacecraft Passes Major Milestone

Image Credit: Sierra Nevada Corporation

May 25, 2017 – Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) successfully passed the third integration milestone for the Dream Chaser program under the NASA Commercial Resupply Services (CRS2) program, bringing it a major step closer to providing resupply services to the International Space Station (ISS).

CRS2 Integration Review #3 (IR3) confirmed SNC’s Dream Chaser Cargo System design meets NASA’s key requirements and maximizes probability of mission success during future flights. The spacecraft is scheduled for at least six missions between 2019 and 2024. The reliability of the Dream Chaser design was also thoroughly reviewed as part of NASA’s Phase I Safety Review Process, which successfully demonstrated safety and mission assurance criteria. The reviews covered all stages of mission operations including ground, launch, flight and landing.

“Passing the third CRS2 integration milestone is a really big deal for the program and its future,” said Steve Lindsey, vice president of Space Exploration Systems for SNC’s Space Systems business area. “We are proud of this accomplishment and are well on our way towards completing the next critical milestone and the remaining developmental phases. It’s a great feeling to be executing all our milestones on schedule and to be moving forward to our operational flight.”

The spacecraft’s unique cargo design transports more cargo mass (5,500 kilograms) to the ISS each mission. In addition, a significant amount of cargo, almost 2,000 kilograms, is directly returned from the ISS to a gentle runway landing at a pinpoint location. Dream Chaser’s all non-toxic systems design allows personnel to simply walk up to the vehicle after landing, providing immediate access to time-critical science as soon as the wheels stop.

The complex and thorough review process found no significant design, build or system issues and underscored the Dream Chaser’s readiness for flight.

The major elements of Milestone 3 included:

  • Successful completion of the NASA Phase 1 Safety Review

  • 32 Hazard Reports and 16 Safety Data Packages approved by NASA
    Dream Chaser Architectural Design’s met all CRS2 requirements (hardware, software, flight dynamics, thermal control, etc.)

  • More than 100 detailed design documents were delivered to NASA along with 30+ design reviews

  • During the three-day IR3 review, more than 1,000 charts were briefed to the approximate 45 member NASA and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) team, which demonstrated that Dream Chaser is at Preliminary Design Review level of maturity

  • Launch vehicle operations, outside subcontracts and agreements

  • Range safety plan, as well as FAA, Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) licensing

  • 5 Safety Review Phase 1 meetings were conducted prior to the IR3 review and involved the delivery of 46 individual Safety Data Packages developed under our S&MA team.

  • In addition to completing this milestone, the Dream Chaser atmospheric test vehicle is in preparations for flight testing that will help verify these designs. The spacecraft is currently testing at NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center in California, having just successfully completed Phase One ground testing leading up to its second free flight test later this year.

    Sierra Nevada Corporation’s Space Systems Division is based in Louisville, Colorado.