KUSA - It’s called the Dream Chaser and, within five years, it will be helping some of the world’s smaller nations realize their dream of getting to space.
“Dream Chaser, as we know it, is our space utility vehicle,” said Mark Sirangelo, vice-president of Sierra Nevada Space Systems in Louisville.
NASA already chose the reusable spacecraft to resupply the International Space Station. 9NEWS was there earlier this year, when Sierra Nevada unveiled the Dream Chaser: a spiritual successor, if you will, to the old shuttle program -- but with a number of improvements, including the fact that it can land anywhere a 737 can.
“That was a very specific goal of the team with this design from the very beginning – is to address, take all those lessons learned from the shuttle, take the good that worked and apply it to our vehicle, upgrade it using state of the art technology,” said SNC Dream Chaser Program Manager Steve Lindsey told 9NEWS earlier this year.
Since Sierra Nevada owns the vehicle itself, it’s open for other uses, too, like an unmanned mission for the United Nations.
The UN’s “Office of Outer Space Affairs” will help choose experiments from smaller nations, who can’t afford a space program of their own. The experiments that are selected will be conducted robotically or remotely onboard the Dream Chaser, once it reaches space.
“With the United Nations, the idea would be to provide the excitement, the interest to the world, to people, to say, ‘What can we do in space?’” Siraneglo said.
It’s a question that Sierra Nevada in Louisville, as well as other aerospace partners in Colorado, hope to answer.
“We know have over 15 organizations that are part of the Dream Chaser program – from universities to big organizations,” Sirangelo said. “To be able to do that, I think, continues to support the growth of Colorado in space.”
The UN space mission onboard the Dream Chaser is set to launch in 2021 and then last for two weeks. The UN has not yet selected the countries that will participate.