Sierra Nevada Corp. Unveils Free-Flying Microgravity Science Laboratory

SNC's Dream Chaser Science Mission Mock-Up. Image Credit: Sierra Nevada Corp.

SNC’s Dream Chaser Science Mission Mock-Up. Image Credit: Sierra Nevada Corp.

October 23, 2014 – Sierra Nevada Corporation’s (SNC) Space Systems has unveiled a science mission variant of its Dream Chaser spacecraft. The full-scale section of a Dream Chaser cabin is on display through October 26 at the American Society for Gravitational and Space Research Conference (ASGSR) conference in Pasadena, California. In addition to the primary function of transporting crew and cargo to and from low-Earth orbit, SNC’s Dream Chaser program team has been developing a variant which leverages the inherent capabilities of the vehicle to offer a free-flying microgravity science laboratory.

The Dream Chaser for Science, or DC4Science, spacecraft is designed to fly independently for short and extended durations to provide customers in such fields as biotech and pharmaceuticals, biology and life science, and material and fluid science with a flexible and evolvablew vehicle easily suited for individual mission requirements.

“By utilizing Dream Chaser as an orbiting scientific laboratory, our customers can fly tailored missions to meet their distinct needs. Our unique spacecraft offers customers the option for crewed, uncrewed, or telepresence flights, enabling scientists to have complete control of their own payloads – critical for research and development,” said John Roth, vice president of business development for SNC’s Space systems. “Customers will maintain scientific intellectual property rights, free from Federal Research Laboratory regulations that govern the International Space Station.”

The full-scale section of the Dream Chaser cabin on display at the ASGSR conference illustrates one of many interior volume configuration options for customers. SNC’s partners in this exhibit include Teledyne Brown Engineering, the University of Alabama at Birmingham, BioServe Space Technologies and ORBITEC, a wholly-owned subsidiary of SNC. E

Each partner has provided flight-heritage or flight-like demonstration payloads for the mock-up so that ASGSR attendees are able to interact with the demonstration and discuss the scope of microgravity science missions available on the Dream Chaser science mission variant.

As a reusable, lifting-body spacecraft with a commercial runway landing capability, the Dream Chaser can fly anywhere in the world. The space system is on the forefront of the commercial spaceflight industry, offering crew and cargo transportation to LEO destinations.

“By allowing customers to be involved from mission definition through mission operation, and providing immediate access to science payloads at a customer-selected landing site, the Dream Chaser offers the scope and flexibility to enhance and enable microgravity science,” said Roth. “Our DC4Science mission capability is designed to change the paradigm of orbital microgravity science.”

After the conference, the mock-up will return to SNC’s Space Systems based in Louisville, Colorado for future integration testing and display.