Dream Chaser is the first-ever commercial spaceplane that will open shared access to space and global collaboration.
Sierra Space was awarded a NASA Commercial Resupply Services 2 (CRS-2) contract in 2016. Under this contract, the Dream Chaser spaceplane fleet (including Tenacity™), will provide a minimum of seven uncrewed cargo service missions to and from the International Space Station (ISS).
Tenacity is a highly customizable multi-mission spacecraft for a wide range of applications and can provide fast turnaround times and handle critical payloads for global customers.
Tenacity represents an uncrewed spiritual successor to the space shuttle, and at 30 feet (9 meters) long, it’s roughly a quarter of the total length of the space shuttle orbiters.
Tenacity’s pressurized volume is 33 cubic meters (including both the spaceplane and the cargo module). This makes the spaceplane more sustainable and easier to maneuver, but it also assists with gentle 1.5g runway landings – ideal for fragile cargo.
Compatible with a wide variety of launch vehicles, Tenacity will be launched in a stowed configuration inside a 5m payload fairing, making it significantly more flexible by reducing ascent loads on the vehicle and protecting the vehicle from debris.
In 2017, Sierra Space conducted a pivotal test flight where the team tested the Dream Chaser hardware during an autonomously conducted atmospheric test flight. On descent over the California desert, the Dream Chaser test vehicle autonomously deployed its landing gear, touching down on the runway at NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center in Edwards, California, demonstrating the spaceplane’s unique lifting body design.
Utilizing internally developed thrusters with three different thrust modes, Tenacity can nimbly maneuver in space and ensure deliveries are effectively completed.
For the return flight, Dream Chaser can safely return critical cargo including supplies and science experiments to Earth at less than 1.5g’s on compatible commercial runways, making cargo accessible faster.
Sierra Space’s Shooting Star™ cargo module is a flexible 15-foot transport and cargo vehicle to be used as an attachment to the Dream Chaser spaceplane.
Dream Chaser, with the help of Shooting Star, can deliver up to 12,000 pounds of pressurized and unpressurized cargo to low-Earth orbit.
In readiness for Dream Chaser missions to the ISS, multiple NASA astronaut crews have visited Sierra Space facilities to undergo detailed training on understanding the vehicle, rendezvous and proximity operations, hardware, and cargo transfer scenarios in anticipation of Dream Chaser deliveries to the ISS.
This comprehensive training is conducted by Sierra Space subject matter experts and includes classroom training and training inside a full-size mock-up of Dream Chaser.
Tenacity will soon make its maiden voyage to deliver cargo to the ISS as part of its NASA CRS-2 contract. When it does, it will mark the beginning of a new era for space exploration.