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JULY 2020

Development Of United States’ Reusable Air And Space Vehicle Dream Chaser


Written by Lieutenant Colonel E. Gagarin and Major I. Shipov;  Originally appeared at Foreign Military Review #3 2019, translated by AlexD exclusively for SouthFront

The American company Dream Chaser (a division of “Sierra Nevada Corporation”) is proactively developing a reusable aerospace vehicle (RASV) Dream Chaser to deliver cargo and crews of up to seven people to the International Space Station (ISS). It will be launched from Cape Canaveral Space Center (Florida), using an Atlas-5 rocket.

Since January 2017 at the NASA Armstrong Flight Test Center (AFB Edwards) a flight prototype of the RASV has been undergoing testing. In particular, on November 11, 2017, a glide was successfully completed after 3.8 km drop from a helicopter and landing on the runway in automatic mode.

Development Of United States' Reusable Air And Space Vehicle Dream Chaser

Main tactical and technical characteristics of the RASV Dream Chaser
Weight: 11,340 kg
Length: 9 m
Wing span: 7 m
Volume of the central compartment: 16 m3
Duration of stay in space (days): up to 210
Weight of the lifted cargo: 5500 kg
Weight of the descending cargo in the central compartment: 1925 kg
Flight range in the atmosphere, up to 1,500 km
Guaranteed number of sorties into space: at least 15

The Dream Chaser space plane has chosen the “carrier fuselage” scheme with three compartments: one central cargo or habitat and two onboard compartments, which will contain fuel tanks of fuel and oxidizer, as well as one cruise engine. The airframe is made of composite materials with third-generation ceramic thermal protection of the entire nose, front edge of the wing and keel, as well as the lower fuselage and wing.

Access to the central compartment of the RASV is through an oval hatch in the tail section with dimensions of approximately 1 m vertically and 0.9 m horizontally. The frame of the docking mechanism is approximately 1.2 m in diameter.

To control flight in the atmosphere there is one vertical all-round rudder on top of the fuselage and two inclined planes of straight sweep along in the sides (camber about 37º) with roll control rudders in the tail part of the appartus. In addition, in the rear part of the onboard compartments, two pairs of horizontal aerodynamic flaps are placed above and below, which change the pitch angle of the vehicle in flight or perform aerodynamic braking during the run by fully lifting them. The chassis is tricycle with a front sliding and rear wheel struts, which can be retracted into the internal compartments of the fuselage.

Landing will be executed as a plane on any runway with a length of at least 2.5 km. The approach is supposed to be performed not only in gliding mode, but also with the use of main engines, which will allow for active maneuvering and changing the flight speed if necessary. The plane-like landing of the RASV will also reduce the overload to 1.5 g per cargo returned from the ISS, which is important for the results of some on-going or completed experiments.

It is planned to create transport (unmanned) and manned modified space planes, which will differ in appearance, respectively, by the absence and presence of glazing in the nose of the central compartment. The transport RASV roll-up rudders are made collapsible, which will allow placing the space plane under the head fairing of the launch vehicle. The manned vehicle with the crew is planned to be launched into space without a fairing.

Development Of United States' Reusable Air And Space Vehicle Dream Chaser

Click to see the full-size image

The launch of the RASV modified for transport is supposed to be carried out with a sealed cargo module docked, as well as non-sealed cargo containers attached to it. The module will be equipped with collapsible solar panels that provide the vehicle with electricity before descent from orbit. Furthermore, the module is supposed to be placed on the outside of the micro-spacecraft launched into low orbits, which will be undocked as necessary. When the vehicle returns to Earth, the module will be dumped before entering the atmosphere along with the external containers and unnecessary cargo inside.

Development Of United States' Reusable Air And Space Vehicle Dream Chaser

Click to see the full-size image

Installing a module similar to the cargo module on a manned RASV, but with a set of special equipment and apparatus, will allow conducting reconnaissance of all types and performing other tasks, as well as performing orbital inspections. In particular, the Dream Chaser space plane is planned to be used for servicing the Hubble space telescope, as well as monitoring the technical condition and refueling of low-orbit spacecraft.

In early 2016, the RASV Dream Chaser was selected by NASA management by tender to participate in the second stage of the ISS supply programme CRS2 (Commercial Resupply Services 2), which will provide for at least six flights of the transport version of the RASV in 2020-2024.

The first flight of the flying apparatus with cargo is scheduled to take place at the end of 2020.

Development Of United States' Reusable Air And Space Vehicle Dream Chaser

Click to see the full-size image

Thus, in the United States, the commercial development of a reusable vehicle is almost complete, on the basis of which it is planned to create transport and manned modified crafts. With the help of this vehicle, under contract of the manufacturer and NASA, it is planned to deliver cargo of various purposes and crews to the ISS and bring them down to Earth.

In the future, the possibility of using the Dream Chaser for military purposes for conducting various types of reconnaissance, support or combat operations in and out of space, as well as inspecting other spacecraft in the interests of external technical condition control, surveillance, suppression and destruction is not excluded.




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    America`s Dream is the.. WORLDS NIGHTMARE

    • Jens Holm

      And You are the nightmare :)

    • occupybacon

      Panic! Panic now!!!

  • RockyFjord

    Excellent report. US works on space stuff while the country on the ground turns to chaos.

  • Lone Ranger

    Same lifting body concept that was around since the late 60s…

    • Jens Holm

      Yes, but also new materials and new electronics and probatly GPS included.

      So far we have nothing better unless we fire them from Mount Everest or something.

      Its the same for the rocket itself. There are 3 or 4 possible swolutions and the Russian one still seemes to be the best.

    • Garga

      Well it’s worse than that. It has undeniable similarities to MiG-105.

  • Assad must stay

    Kinda like the american dream, you chase it, but do you ever catch it? Lol

  • Ivan Freely

    Once again, a private corporation takes advantage of taxpayers. The last paragraph is really what this project is all about.

  • Wayne Nicholson

    The problem with militarizing space is the first time 2 nations fight in orbit it will produce so much debris that space will be inaccessible to us. In the end it’s just another way to bilk the taxpayer using fear and ignorance as a sales tool.

    Dominance in space is akin to dominance in nuclear war. You can’t really use it in a shooting war. It’s dick wagging on a galactic scale.

  • RichardD

    It’s an impressive engineering accomplishment if it performs to specification.

    The million dollar question is what does our race’s breakaway civilization and secret space program/programs look like?

    Are they involved with ETs, do people in the secret space programs and breakaway civilization have extended lifespans? Do they have field drive subluminal and superluminal speed ships that can travel to planets in our solar system and to other solar systems? Are there outposts built on the planets in our solar system? How much of it was paid for with money stolen from governments and through criminal activities?

  • SOF

    USA would have reaped far more benefit for themselves and the rest of the world had the $6.4 Trillion spent since 2001 on wars in the Middle East and Asia been put to space related projects for civilian purpose.

    USA spending priorities in the last 2 decades is an example of how NOT to spend one’s money.

    • IggyBundy

      naw.. a lot o that money went into the pockets of boosh cronies and its still on going.. the looting on such a massive scale it makes the roman plundering of france to get rich look like a church donation.

      • SOF

        That’s how this crazy world works.

  • Gary Sellars

    Dream Chaser = murican copy of the Soviet BOR-4 test vehicle.

    US failed in the 60s and 70s to develop a lifting body vehicle that was stable over the full mach range from re-entry to landing. The Soviets succeeded where they failed.

    • Justin

      Shut the fuck up Gary what would u know!
      You love China, thats how dumb u are!

      • Gary Sellars

        Be silent you thick-skulled ape. Everything I wrote was a verifiable fact.

        Not sure what China has to do with this story but I expect such nonsense from a retarded 12 year old.

        • Justin

          U should at least mention the space shuttle. pretty sure that succeeded! its literally unpowered! im know the space shuttle enters the atmosphere at multiple mach and lands unpowered! So please explain what u are trying to say! I agree the Buran was awesome but hey, it was a failure in the end!
          Now i love Russia and Russian hardware but i know bias when i see it!

          42 million for an SU-57 and 85 million for a SU-35?
          11 x SU-57 made and 115 SU-35 made
          WTF is going on Gazza?
          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/88ddc5cb45bbd76a7b0597c5d96b634b798d616b5b93e006784760d137720622.png https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/03e9dc44e97fdaea1ef72603395ddf97eeaf5e1f677d5cdbeea10b77213a711c.png So lets be fair!

          After that engine failure and crash of the SU-57 it suddenly dropped to half price Gazza! WHY??
          That was the supercruise engine test! What the fuck happened?
          Why the drop in price Gazza?
          Muricans have had supercruise since 2002!
          thats 18 years ahead and still counting!
          China is waiting on their supercruise for their jets too!
          SU-35 waiting on its supercruise also!
          The fuck is going on Gazza?

          U gonna be Biased and make an excuse or u gonna admit to Russian failure and a Russian lemon!
          Its a lemon Gazza!
          The price and the accident is the proof!
          If u argue against me on this u will discredit yourself!

          • Gary Sellars

            Yep, you debate like a stupid child. Quoting wikipedia for relative costs of Su-35 vs Su-57??? Now thats funny :-)

            Su-57 cost (to the Russian gov) has dropped because the Ruskie gov has ORDERED their state-owned enterprise to reduce costs, ie forgo any and all profit form state orders. We still don’t know what that price will be.

            F-22 can supercruise but they only built 187 of them because the reality was that the aircraft didn’t live up to its hype, was just too expensive to purchase, and was(is) a hangar queen that costs a fortune to operate (and continuously repair as its RAM degrades).

            The F-35 supercruise is marginal, and the aircraft structure is now known to be unable to withstand the thermal and mechanical stresses of prolonged supersonic flight so the USAF tactical doctrine for these aircraft is being rewritten to emphasis subsonic operation!!!…. what a joke :-)

            China is behind the curve on high performance jet engines, but they are making progress. So what? What relevence is this for Sukhoi jets?

            Su-35 isn’t getting supercruise. Neither will US F-15s, F-18s or F-16s (which still comprise the large bulk of US fighter inventory). Again, so what?

            As for “discrediting” myself, you’re simply being delusional.

          • Justin

            You said: Yep, you debate like an angry child…. Quoting wikipedia for relative costs of Su-35 vs Su-57??? Now thats funny :-)

            Ummm no Gazza! i got the info FIRST from SouthFront! i nearly shit my pants when i saw it! Confirmed by Wikipedia! Thats right Gazza, it was reported HERE! its not like i sit on wikipedia all day clicking refresh until something happens!

            OK here we go….

            The price of the SU-57 dropped right after the engine failure!
            If the SU-35 isnt getting it then its proof they cant make supercruise!
            China cant make jack shit! Their hypersonic missile they show off are mock ups! ADMITTED by china lol

            F-22 was cancelled by obama who also cancelled NASA projects cos the guy is a traitor! Plus i heard its problem was the airframe! Also Trump looking to start it up again!

            F-35…. im CERTAIN it doesnt have supercruise at all! so i dont know where u getting that from! it only has supersonic Gazza! lol
            Yet it does have VTOL for one of the types!
            Remember that VTOL and STOVL means the US navy now has more than 11 aircraft carriers now (super carriers) it has a shit load of STOVL carriers too!
            So now the VTOL osprey helicopter and the F-35B bring this to an insane amount of carriers (with stealth defence and extremely long range, heavy transport choppers that can fly at 540kmh!)

            Ummm yes Gazza super cruise is coming to some of those planes buddy! Such as the FA-18 super hornet block 3 and the indian F-21 (which is a modern version of a F-16)

            But guess what Gazza, UK, FRANCE, SWEDEN and the USA all have supercruise!
            How the fuck is any nation without supercruise going to beat that?
            Speed kills Gazza! Range kills too! supercruise also = much longer range!

            Gazza. dont brag about shit thats not worth bragging about! Thats what im trying to say! in reality, you were clutching at straws! Dont do that!

        • Justin

          Muricans have had 4 of these for a while too! Doing secret missions (non public) via the Airforce!

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/a695aa74138147018e0e468bbbbf63ddd00891aa8ae8d71e5d9d321deaa99b7b.jpg https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/bab4a0b6c1ab4bbff84aafee80190fab6f075e208ebdf089cc2f5628153fd1b6.jpg

          Lets do the math Gazza!
          Space Shuttle (Success) used for decades
          OTV’s (Success) and current use
          Dream Chaser (Success) and about to begin!
          F-22 with Supercruise (Success) 180 built and in use since early 2000’s
          B2- Stealth (Success) built long a go and in use
          SR-71 (Success) fastest jet ever! used for decades
          Re-useable rockets with self landing VTVL (Success) 2 Murican companies have succeeded! blue origin, spaceX and soon Boeing will be testing theirs
          VTVL F-35B (Success) Can take of vertically and land vertically!
          VTOL Osprey (Success) Fastest, longest range, heavey payload helicopter that can turn into an aeroplane mid flight and back to a helicopter again!

          Buran (Failed) tested once and now rusting
          BOR-4 (success) used for 2 years hahaha
          SU-57 (Failed) project stopped, plane at half price, cant sell them!
          TU-160 (Success) but nothing to brag about! not the fastest and not stealth! nothing special! supersonic strategic bomber created from the Russian failure to make a passenger supersonic plane that could compete with concord

          So the Russian / soviets never really did anything significant!
          The Buran died! The BOR-4 was used for 2 years and 7 missions! That amounts to fuck all!
          The stealth aircraft is so far behind its not even funny!
          Not as stealthy, cant make supercruise and already 18 years behind!

          2 years a go 2 x glonass sats blew up on the launch pad! Thats gotta hurt and slow down progress right?

          So when u feel like coming on the site and making biased one sided comments REMEMBER TO FUCKING TO GIVE THE OTHER SIDE SOME FUCKING CREDIT!

    • Justin

      Buran 1988 (Failure) 8 years after USA built 4!

      1980 (7 missions / 2 years of service, parachute landing) https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/cd336e9c5130c5c86a98c798dc1f24bfc5ef3fa2f20e7c7beee3466984691f85.jpg


      Space Shuttle 1981 (Success, over 30 years of service / 133 successful launches, literally built the ISS space station, 5 built https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/86f95fe9574109a0e010e680b9fd47c30687764706c8ee3cd45994539c373293.jpg )

      OTV-1, 2 , 4
      (Active since 2010, classified missions, lands on runway, 4 built, USAF)

      Dream Chaser
      Brand new! piggy backing off exisiting technology created in the 1950’s which the Russians copied!

    • Justin
  • vivekananda

    russia stays behind