Sierra Space Dream Chaser® Spaceplane Successfully Completes First Phase of Pre-Flight Testing

Dream Chaser Vibe Testing at NASA

LOUISVILLE, Colo. – Mar. 7, 2024  Sierra Space, a leading commercial space company and emerging defense tech prime building a platform in space to benefit and protect life on Earth, announced today the successful completion of the initial phase of environmental testing on the revolutionary Dream Chaser® spaceplane, Tenacity®, at NASA’s Neil Armstrong Test Facility in Sandusky, Ohio.

Over the past month, the Sierra Space Dream Chaser and its cargo companion, Shooting Star™, underwent rigorous vibration testing while stacked in launch configuration inside the Mechanical Vibration Facility at the NASA complex. In readiness for launch from Kennedy Space Center, the tests exposed the vehicles to the intense conditions of launch vibrations using the world’s most powerful spacecraft shaker table. See video here.

“We are coming out of years of development, years of hard work and years of resolving tough engineering challenges that come from revolutionary new ways of doing things,” said Sierra Space CEO Tom Vice. “This phase of development illustrates how Dream Chaser and the Shooting Star cargo module will handle the mechanical rigors of launch. This is the year that we transition from development and enter orbital operations – it is the year that changes how we connect space and earth.”

“Completion of vibration testing of the vehicles in the launch configuration is a huge milestone for Sierra Space and the Dream Chaser program,” said Jake Ingram, Director of Programs for Dream Chaser DC-100. “We successfully applied the environment specified by the launch provider, validated primary structure modal responses and verified vehicle functionality before and after the vibration test sequence.”

Key accomplishments in this first critical phase of pre-flight testing included: the completion of Sine Vibration Testing (in all three axes or directions), a Separation Shock Test that simulates the separation of the Dream Chaser from Shooting Star and a test that involved deploying the spaceplane’s wings. These tests evaluated Dream Chaser’s performance under the stresses of launch, operation in orbit and ability to communicate with the International Space Station (ISS).

‘Joint Test #3’, a critical phase in the testing process, represented an integrated assessment of the completed system in a flight-like configuration. After its ride to space atop United Launch Alliance’s Vulcan Centaur rocket, Dream Chaser separates from the rocket fairing, deploys its wings from a folded position and flies semi-autonomously to the International Space Station. Joint Test #3 was a comprehensive evaluation focused on the software interface between the vehicle and the ISS to ensure the seamless functionality of the command and data handling.

Following these critical test phases, the Shooting Star cargo module was de-mated from Dream Chaser and transported from the Armstrong Test Facility’s Space Environments Complex (SEC) to the nearby In-Space Propulsion (ISP) facility. Soon, Dream Chaser will be transported to the ISP facility to join the cargo module, where the two spacecraft will begin thermal vacuum testing, a crucial step in the journey towards the launchpad and another milestone in Sierra Space’s mission to redefine the future of space commercialization.


About Sierra Space

Sierra Space is a leading commercial space company at the forefront of innovation and the commercialization of space in the Orbital Age®, building an end-to-end business and technology platform in space to benefit life on Earth. With more than 30 years and 500 missions of space flight heritage, the company is reinventing both space transportation with Dream Chaser®, the world’s only commercial spaceplane, and the future of space destinations with the company’s inflatable and expandable space station technology. Using commercial business models, the company is also delivering orbital services to commercial, DoD and national security organizations, expanding production capacity to meet the needs of constellation programs. In addition, Sierra Space builds a host of systems and subsystems across solar power, mechanics and motion control, environmental control, life support, propulsion and thermal control, offering myriad space-as-a-service solutions for the new space economy.


About NASA’s Neil Armstrong Test Facility

NASA’s Neil Armstrong Test Facility is part of NASA’s Glenn Research Center in Cleveland. Located on 6,400 acres in Sandusky, Ohio, it is home to some of the world’s largest and most capable space simulation test facilities, where ground tests are conducted for the U.S. and international space and aeronautics communities.




Alex Walker, Sierra Space
(303) 803-2297 |

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