Sierra Space has achieved a historic milestone with the completion of its first Dream Chaser spacecraft. The Colorado-based company announced that the construction of its first Dream Chaser vehicle, named Tenacity, is complete. The spacecraft will be shipped to NASA‘s Neil Armstrong Test Facility for environmental testing in the coming weeks.
Contract with NASA
“Today we have reached a milestone in both our company’s journey and the future of our industry. A milestone that has taken years of work” said Sierra Space CEO Tom Vice in a statement (ref.) on Thursday. “Dream Chaser is not just a product, it is a testament to the human spirit, determination, and the relentless pursuit of what lies beyond”.
Sierra Space holds a contract with NASA to launch robotic resupply missions to the International Space Station (ISS) with Dream Chaser. Tenacity will be the company’s first spacecraft to fly to the orbital laboratory. The vehicle could be launched on a test flight to the station as early as April 2024.
Mission will lift off from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center (KSC) aboard the new United Launch Alliance Vulcan Centaur rocket. The landing will take place at NASA’s historic Shuttle Landing Facility, which is part of the KSC.
According to Sierra Space, the design of the Dream Chaser is a mix of aesthetics, functionality, and above all, resilience. The craft must withstand reentry temperatures exceeding 1,650°C while remaining cool to the touch just minutes after landing.
Company also claims that Dream Chaser’s autonomous flight system is designed for a minimum of 15 space missions. The vehicle’s sustainable propulsion and oxidizer fuel system are expected to help mitigate the environmental cost of its operations.
Tenacity’s initial run will include seven cargo missions to the ISS. Like SpaceX‘s Dragon capsule, Dream Chaser can return experiments and other hardware to Earth from the orbital laboratory. The other two freighters currently in operation, Northrop Grumman‘s Cygnus and Russia’s Progress, cannot do this. They burn up upon reentry into the Earth’s atmosphere.”