Dream Chaser Tenacity arrives at Kennedy Space Center

Illustration of Sierra Space’s first dream catcher, DC#1 (Perseverance). Credit: Sierra Space

Sierra Space Dream Chaser Perseverance, part of NASAInitiative to strengthen trade resupply missions to International Space StationShe arrived at Kennedy Space Center for her first mission. After rigorous pre-launch testing, it is scheduled to deliver 7,800 pounds of cargo using a ULA Vulcan rocket.

As part of NASA’s effort to expand commercial resupply in low Earth orbit, Sierra Space’s unmanned spaceplane has arrived at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida ahead of its maiden flight to the International Space Station (ISS).

The Dream Chaser spaceplane, named Tenacity, arrived at Kennedy on May 18 inside a climate-controlled transport container from NASA’s Neil Armstrong Test Facility in Sandusky, Ohio, and joined the accompanying cargo module Shooting Star, which arrived on May 11.

Pre-launch testing and preparation

Before arriving at Kennedy, the spaceplane and its cargo module underwent vibration testing on the world’s highest amplitude and most powerful spacecraft vibrating system inside the agency’s Space Environments Complex, exposing the stack to vibrations like those it would experience during launch and reentry into space. Earth’s atmosphere. After the vibration test, the duo moved to NASA’s Space Propulsion Facility and were exposed to low ambient pressures and temperatures ranging from -150 to 300 degrees. F.

Perseverance dream chaser inside NASA's Space Systems Processing Facility

Dream Chaser Tenacity, Sierra Space’s unmanned cargo spaceplane, is processed inside the Space Systems Processing Facility (SSPF) at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Monday, May 20, 2024. The spaceplane arrived inside a climate-controlled transport container from a station Neil affiliated with the agency. Armstrong testing facility in Ohio. Final testing and pre-launch processing will be completed within the SSPF’s high bay prior to Dream Chaser’s inaugural launch atop a ULA (United Launch Alliance) Vulcan rocket from nearby Cape Canaveral Space Station. Image credit: NASA/Kim Shifflett

Final preparations at Kennedy

Upon arrival at Kennedy, the teams moved the Dream Chaser Tenacity to the high bay within the Space Systems Processing Facility, where it will undergo final testing and pre-launch processing before its scheduled launch later this year.

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The spaceplane will lift off aboard a ULA (United Launch Alliance) Vulcan rocket from Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, and is scheduled to transport 7,800 pounds of cargo to the orbiting laboratory.

Remaining pre-flight activities at Kennedy include acoustic and electromagnetic interference and compatibility testing, completion of work on the spaceplane’s thermal protection system, and final payload integration.

Dream Chaser design and capabilities

The Dream Chaser is a levitating fuselage design spaceplane measuring 30 feet long and 15 feet wide. Its unique winged design allows it to transport cargo to and from low Earth orbit and maintain the ability to land on a runway in the style of a NASA space shuttle. The 15-foot Shooting Star unit can hold up to 7,000 pounds of cargo internally and features three non-pressurized external payload holders.

The partially reusable transport system will carry out at least seven cargo missions to the International Space Station as part of the agency’s efforts to expand commercial resupply services in low Earth orbit. Future missions may last up to 75 days and deliver up to 11,500 pounds of cargo.

While the Dream Chaser spacecraft is reusable and can return up to 3,500 pounds of cargo to Earth, the Shooting Star module is designed to be jettisoned and incinerated during reentry, providing the opportunity to dispose of up to 8,500 pounds of waste in Every task.

Dream Chaser Tenacity is the first in a planned fleet of Sierra Spacecraft to help carry out these missions.

Certification and on-orbit operations

As part of the process of certifying the vehicle system for the agency’s future resupply missions, NASA and Sierra Space will put the spaceplane through its paces once it enters orbit. As the Dream Chaser Tenacity approaches the space station, it will conduct a series of demonstrations to demonstrate attitude control, transition maneuvers and abort capabilities. After completing the maneuverability demonstration, the space station astronauts will use the Canadarm2 robotic arm to handle the spacecraft and dock it in a port facing Earth.

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After remaining in the orbiting laboratory for approximately 45 days, the spaceplane will be launched from the station and return to land at the Kennedy Launch and Landing Facility. After landing, the Dream Chaser will be turned off, and the Sierra Space team will transport it back to the processing facility to perform the necessary inspections, unload the remaining NASA payload, and begin the process of preparing it for its next mission.

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