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article imageUnited Launch Alliance will launch 'Dream Chaser' space vehicle

By Karen Graham     Aug 18, 2019 in Technology
The Dream Chaser spacecraft has a long-term ride to space. Builder Sierra Nevada Corp. (SNC) announced that United Launch Alliance (ULA) would heft the shuttle-like craft for six NASA cargo missions to the International Space Station, starting in 2021.
"Dream Chaser can launch from any conventional rocket so we had great options," said Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) CEO Fatih Ozmen, reports Space Daily.
"SNC selected ULA because of our strong collaboration on the Dream Chaser program, their proven safety record, and on-time performance. This is bringing America's spaceplane and America's rocket together for best-of-breed innovation and exploration."
With the help of ULA's new Vulcan Centaur rockets, SNC plans on delivering more than 12,000 pounds (5,400 kilograms) of cargo to the ISS over the course of six missions beginning in late 2021.
A pickup truck pulls the Sierra Nevada Corporation  or SNC  Dream Chaser flight vehicle through 60 m...
A pickup truck pulls the Sierra Nevada Corporation, or SNC, Dream Chaser flight vehicle through 60 mile per hour tow tests on taxi and runways at NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center at Edwards Air Force Base in California. (August 13, 2013.)
NASA/Ken Ulbrich
"I have been a fan and a supporter and a cheerleader of this amazing vehicle from the first moment I saw it," ULA Chief Executive Tory Bruno told reporters as he stood in front of a Dream Chaser test vehicle during a news briefing in Louisville, Colorado, on August 14. "To be able to make Vulcan's commercial debut with this block of missions underneath the Dream Chaser is just truly exciting."
Dream Chaser is the latest addition to NASA's fleet of cargo vessels used to ferry supplies to the space station. Dream Chaser will join Northrop Grumman's Cygnus spacecraft and SpaceX's Dragon, along with Russia's Progress spacecraft and Japan's HTV cargo ships.
The Vulcan Centaur rocket has not flown yet but is a next-generation lifter developed in large part for the United States Air Force's National Security Space Launch (NSSL) program. NSSL has also been subject to competition in recent years after the Air Force opened the competition for missions to other companies besides ULA, like SpaceX.
Schematics for the Vulcan Centaur launch vehicle as of 2015.
Schematics for the Vulcan Centaur launch vehicle as of 2015.
United Launch Alliance
Nearly 90 percent of all the Vulcan Centaur's components will be flown first on Atlas V missions so that its first flight will have reduced risk. Vulcan Centaur is a new class of space launch vehicle with the performance of a heavy launch vehicle in just a single core.
Actually, a new competitive contract award with the Air Force is underway between SpaceX, ULA, Northrop Grumman Innovation Systems, and Blue Origin, according to Forbes.
More about sierra Nevada Corporation, united launch alliance, Dream Chaser, shuttle missions, Vulcan Centaur rocket
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