September 10, 2015 – Sierra Nevada Corporation’s (SNC) Space Systems announces the launch of a new program, the Dream Chaser-Preferred Landing Site Program, in which SNC will work with spaceports and commercial airports to become a designated landing site for the Dream Chaser spacecraft.
“The number of applicants requesting spaceport licenses both domestically and internationally has increased dramatically over the past 24 months,” said John Roth, vice president of business development and strategy for SNC’s Space Systems. “SNC’s Dream Chaser spacecraft is the only commercial space vehicle that is capable not only of a runway landing, but landing on runways that already support commercial aircraft. SNC has created this program based on the tremendous interest we have received to date from spaceports and airports around the world that want to host Dream Chaser landings as a stimulant to their local economies.”
Through the Dream Chaser-Preferred Landing Site Program, SNC is offering three different levels of designation, with the highest level culminating in the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issuing a re-entry license to SNC for the designated spaceport or airport. This program was created based on similar work currently being done with Ellington Spaceport in Houston, Texas and the Huntsville International Airport Authority (HIA) in Huntsville, Alabama.
Recently, the FAA granted a launch site license to the Houston Airport System (HAS), allowing the launch of reusable vehicles from Houston. HAS was only the tenth location to be granted such a license. SNC has worked with HAS for over a year to aid in the submittal of their license and to assess the feasibility of landing Dream Chaser in Houston, home of NASA’s Johnson Space Center.
As announced in June at the Paris Air Show, SNC is also working with the City of Huntsville to assess the feasibility of landing the Dream Chaser spacecraft at the Huntsville International Airport, a public-use airport. Huntsville plays a significant role in the national and global space community.
“Dream Chaser is poised to lead the commercial space industry in reusable, low-Earth orbital flight,” said Mark N. Sirangelo, corporate vice president of SNC’s Space Systems. “The benefits of multiple landing sites would be significant to both the landing site community and to the Dream Chaser network of domestic and international partners. With each Preferred Landing Site designation, comes a greater opportunity to make commercial space an accessible reality.”
SNC’s Dream Chaser spacecraft requires only a 10,000 feet or longer runway and does not have any onboard toxic consumables, including propellants. Therefore, the vehicle has very limited environmental impact and affords immediate post-landing access to the spacecraft.
In Colorado, Front Range Airport is a general aviation airport located 19 miles east of Denver. The airport is considered a potential spaceport site that would serve as a hub to aerospace and space tourism industries. Licensing for Spaceport Colorado is currently under consideration by the FAA.