The shuttle's successors

At first sight the Dream Chaser looks like a smaller version of the Space Shuttle, the vehicle it is designed to replace. In fact its origins can be traced back to the designs for Nasa's unfinished HL-20, a winged craft that was to serve as the lifeboat for the International Space Station.

Diagram showing details of Dream Chaser

"Space is hard and we know that"

Mark Sirangelo, Sierra Nevada Corporation

Dream Chaser

  • 2015 launch date
  • Atlas V launch vehicle
  • 7 total crew capacity
  • $100m Nasa funding so far*
  • Runway landings

Like the shuttle, Dream Chaser's primary mission is to carry crew and cargo into low-Earth orbit and the International Space Station. Its developer, the Sierra Nevada Corporation, says the re-usable craft will be able to land on conventional runways.


Pictured above left is a scale model of Nasa's HL-20, the Dream Chaser's inspiration. On the right, a wire-frame image, again of the HL-20. Before the Dream Chaser launches in 2015, it needs to pass a safety checklist that includes, atmospheric, orbital and crew-rated testing.

*Total funding given in rounds one and two of Nasa's Commercial Crew Development programme (CCDev).

More on This Story

Space shuttle

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