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Dream Chaser

Dream Chaser being launched
Dream Chaser being launched atop an Atlas V. Image credit: SNC
A spacecraft similar in appearance to, but much smaller than, the Space Shuttle. Dream Chaser is the only winged vehicle to be in the running as a successor to the Shuttle as part of NASA's Commercial Crew Development program.

Its design is based on that of the HL-20, a small plane-like craft conceived by NASA in the 1980s as a possible "lifeboat" for the International Space Station (ISS).

Dream Chaser is being developed by the Space Systems division of Sierra Nevada Corporation with funding from NASA, having been developed initially by SpaceDev, a California-based company that was taken over by Sierra Nevada in 2008.

With a possible first launch date in 2015, Dream Chaser would carry a maximum crew of seven astronauts into low-Earth orbit (LEO) and, most notably, to the ISS. It would be launched by an Atlas 5 rocket and would land, like the Shuttle, on a conventional runway.

Dream Chaser in orbit
Dream Chaser in orbit
Dream Chaser plan view
Dream Chaser plan view
In October 2011, it was announced that an unmanned, high-altitude flight test will be carried out in the summer of 2012. For this flight, the space plane will be carried up by WhiteKnightTwo, the carrier aircraft for the commercial suborbital passenger vessel SpaceShipTwo, backed by Virgin Galactic.

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