November 14, 2016 – Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) and the Midland Development Corporation (MDC) announced on November 3 that Midland International Air & Space Port is now considered a compatible landing site for SNC’s Dream Chaser spacecraft. Midland International Air & Space Port, located in Midland, Texas, has successfully completed the compatibility portion of the Dream Chaser Landing Site Designation process, which is the first step toward becoming an approved landing site for Dream Chaser spacecraft landings.
In order for the Dream Chaser spacecraft to obtain final approval to land at any airport or spaceport, SNC must receive a Part 435 Reentry License from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). This license is issued to the vehicle operator and is paired to the landing site. With the successful completion of this first phase, Midland International Air & Space Port is one step closer to becoming an approved, licensed Dream Chaser landing site for commercial missions.
“Midland is already an FAA-licensed spaceport, making pursuit of Dream Chaser landing opportunities a logical next step,” said John Roth, vice president of Business Development and Strategy for SNC’s Space Systems. “We entered into an agreement to begin working on the Landing Site Designation earlier this year and are pleased to have successfully progressed in the process. Midland is now considered a compatible landing site for Dream Chaser commercial missions.”
The SNC Landing Site Designation
SNC developed the Landing Site Designation process to provide airports and spaceports around the world the opportunity to assess the feasibility of landing the Dream Chaser spacecraft on site. The SNC Landing Site Designation is the first of several steps required in order to become an FAA licensed landing site.
“Today’s announcement demonstrates Midland Spaceport’s continued commitment to furthering the commercial space industry on behalf of the City of Midland. Our goal is to one day see the Dream Chaser spacecraft land safely on our Midland International Air & Space Port runway,” said J. Ross Lacy, president of the Spaceport Development Board.
Dream Chaser Spacecraft
Owned and operated by SNC and built in Louisville, Colorado, the Dream Chaser spacecraft is a reusable, multi-mission space utility vehicle (SUV). It is capable of transportation services to low-Earth orbit, where the International Space Station (ISS) resides, and is the only commercial, lifting-body vehicle capable of a runway landing.
The Dream Chaser Cargo System was selected by NASA to provide cargo delivery and disposal services to the ISS under the Commercial Resupply Services 2 (CRS2) contract. All Dream Chaser CRS2 cargo missions are planned to land at Kennedy Space Center’s Shuttle Landing Facility.
SNC’s Dream Chaser spacecraft requires only a 10,000 foot or longer runway and does not have any onboard toxic consumables, including propellants. This means 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.