Sierra Nevada Corporation is developing a spacecraft for NASA that could change the face of America’s space program. Called Dream Chaser, the spacecraft is a lifting body that can maneuver within the atmosphere — sort of like a scaled-down Space Shuttle. That maneuverability enables it to land anyplace there is a 10,000-foot runway, unlike other spacecraft that typically must spash down in the ocean. Dream Chaser can carry bigger payloads than other spacecraft, up to six tons in a single flight to the International Space Station. But it also can carry astronauts, and perform a variety of manned or robotic missions in low earth orbit. With modifications, it can potentially perform missions in higher orbits. Because it is flexible, reusable, habitable and versatile, Dream Chaser looks to be a breakthrough for NASA, and for other users including perhaps the military. I have written a commentary for Forbes here.
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