Dream Chaser spaceplane wings arrive in Colorado

Thursday April 23, 2020 0 comments Tags: Louisville, Sierra Nevada Corporation, Dream Chaser, Eren Ozmen, John Curry, NASA

LOUISVILLE -- Nevada-based Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) uncrated wings for its Dream Chaser spaceplane at the company’s Louisville production facility.Sierra_Nevada_logo 

The wings’ arrival kicks off the much-anticipated integration phase of a beautiful and critical differentiator for Dream Chaser, the world’s only spaceplane owned by a private company and under contract with NASA, SNC said.

“The wings are here and now we truly have butterflies in anticipation of this integration phase for Dream Chaser,” said SNC President Eren Ozmen.

“Our spaceplane looks and functions unlike anything else in space -- more technologically advanced but with all the heritage of the space shuttle program in its design. Dream Chaser’s first flight will be a soaring moment for all of us.”

The arrival kicks off the integration of the complex Wing Deployment System (WDS) as part of the continued assembly and integration of the vehicle.

With their innovative folding design, the wings are stowed in the fairing ahead of launch. After the launch vehicle separates, the WDS deploys the wings and locks them into place.

Dream Chaser’s steeply angled wings function as stabilizers for the lift generated by the body of the vehicle.

“The wings for Dream Chaser presented an interesting design challenge,” said Dream Chaser program director John Curry.

“Not only must they survive in low-Earth orbit like a satellite, but they need to be operational in Earth’s atmosphere, like an aircraft.”

Like the structural body for Dream Chaser, the wings were manufactured by Lockheed Martin in Texas, a subcontractor to SNC, and are single bonded composite structures. This state-of-the-art technology saves weight without compromising strength and stiffness.  

Dream Chaser is under contract with NASA for at least six cargo resupply and return service missions to the International Space Station under the Commercial Resupply Services 2 (CRS-2) contract. 

The Dream Chaser and attached Shooting Star transport vehicle can carry up to 12,000 pounds of supplies and other cargo and return delicate science material to Earth with a gentle runway landing.