Sierra Nevada Corporation’s (SNC) Space Systems and Lockheed Martin has unveiled the Dream Chaser orbital spacecraft composite airframe.
Earlier in the year Lockheed began fabrication of the Dream Chaser orbital spacecraft structure at NASA’s Michoud facility in New Orleans. As each structural component completes the fabrication and inspection process at MAF, it is transported to Lockheed Martin’s Aeronautics facility in Fort Worth, Texas for integration into the airframe and co-bonded assembly.
The Fort Worth facility manufactures and assembles the world’s top fighter aircraft, here the company applies the latest advanced 3D preform technology on the Dream Chaser for joint assemble, reducing the overall part and tooling count while improving assembly and integration time. Through these processes, SNC and Lockheed Martin are able to improve the overall durability, weight efficiency and affordability of the spacecraft.
SNC is working with NASA’s Commercial Crew Program under an existing space act agreement to develop a safe, innovative, modern, flexible and highly capable commercial space transportation system for the 21st Century. Once developed, Dream Chaser will provide the only reusable, human-rated lifting-body spacecraft with a commercial runway landing capability, anywhere in the world, and is on the forefront of the commercial human spaceflight industry, offering safe, reliable and cost-effective crew and critical cargo transportation to and from low-Earth orbit.
Upon completion of manufacturing Lockheed Martin will transport the Dream Chaser airframe to SNC’s Louisville, Colorado, facility for final integration and assembly.