A New Challenger to SpaceX and Virgin Galactic Emerges: Sierra Nevada Corporation Delivers ‘Shooting Star’ Cargo Module to NASA Kennedy HQ
While Richard Branson and Elon Musk battle for primacy as private partners with NASA, the Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) – a global security and aerospace firm – has been quietly developing their own reusable cargo shuttle to support the Artemis mission. They just delivered a beta version of their secondary "Shooting Star" component to NASA Kennedy Space Center in Florida for testing, according to a report from TechCrunch.
Dream Chaser is a snub-nosed thirty-foot-long reusable spacecraft with short fins that give it the look of a bumblebee in flight compared to NASA's longer, iconic space shuttle. Its small size is by design: scaling down enabled engineers to design the craft as "lifting-body." While airplanes get their lift from airflow passing under the wings, Dream Chaser is designed with a wide flat underbelly to create lift from beneath the hull instead. This allowed for additional innovations like thermal protection systems and makes Dream Chaser the only commercial space vehicle currently capable of runway landings.
The Shooting Star module is a series of smaller, secondary ejectable cargo holds that bolt onto the back of Dream Chaser. They can carry a payload up to 10,000 pounds and were designed to disintegrate during reentry into Earth's atmosphere, torching waste offloaded from the ISS.
Eren Ozmen, Chairwoman and President of SNC, explained, "With the addition of Shooting Star we add a capability for NASA, sending even more critical science, food and cargo to the International Space Station, and contributing to the important work the astronauts are doing every day."
Dream Chaser and Shooting Star are slated to start transporting cargo and crewmembers in manned and unmanned missions to the International Space Station in 2021.
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