Soon, manned space missions to the International Space Station will be held not only by Boeing, Lockheed Martin and SpaceX capsules, but also an interesting looking mini-shuttle from Sierra Nevada.
Representatives of the company showed in June this year, how beautifully works the vehicle engine called Vortex. Engineers boast that the engine functions phenomenally, and at the same time it is cheap to produce and will serve the mini-shuttle for many years. Dream Chaser will not be flying into space thanks to its own drive. Similarly to the case of previously used shuttles, it will be carried into orbit at a certain height on the top of the rocket. The vehicle will then detach from the rocket and use the engine to move towards the space house.
The mini-shuttle has been adapted to all types of rockets, so each company will be able to carry out its mission. The vehicle will be coming back to Earth from space on its own. Takeoffs and landings will be made from Cape Canaveral, Florida. The first flight is planned for next year. Then the world of the private sector of the US space industry will reach another important milestone on the road to independence from the rest of the world.
Sierra Nevada provides for the commissioning of two versions of the Dream Chaser, one for the crew, and the other only for the transport of goods. From the outside, the machines will be different from each other. The manned version is to have windows through which astronauts will be able to observe the entire course of the mission, while the cargo will be windowless, and instead there will be thermal protection plates.
Interestingly, NASA and the UN anticipate the construction of another version of the vehicle. It will be adapted to carry out various experiments on Earth’s orbit. Both the commodity and experimental versions will have a set of two folding solar panel systems and detachable motors. Unfortunately, after completing the mission, they will become space debris, until it burns in the atmosphere. Apparently, the company calculated that it would make a lot of savings in this way.
The UN plans to get financing for the lease of the Dream Chaser mini-space shuttle from the Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC), which will allow such experiments to be carried out in space. The launch of the vehicle with various tests from many countries is planned for 2021. Sierra Nevada has already won a contract for the supply of raw materials to the ISS by 2024. Its vehicles can fly both with the crew and autonomously. According to the UN plan, the countries participating in the project will have to pay a fee for research, but they are not to be large amounts, because the organization will pay for them from their own and acquired funds.