Author Topic: SNC building test schedule for Dream Chaser – Dryden Drop Tests upcoming  (Read 41893 times)

Online Chris Bergin

Status update. Thanks again to SNC for being really helpful.

http://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2012/12/snc-building-schedule-dream-chaser-tests-upcoming/

This is also the first article since we revamped the news site. So if you're on twitter, facebook or any of that nonsense, click the "share" options and we'll see how that works out.

Online Lee Jay

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I want to see this thing fly.  I mean, I REALLY want to see this thing fly!

Offline BrightLight

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I'm looking forward to the free-flight drop test video, maybe even a powered flight in '14 or '15

and BTW - Nice article Chris, is there any chance that SNC would discuss the economics of the DC as compared to CST-100 and Dragon, its a long shot but it is the nexus of the DC argument - its cheaper to fly a reusable craft.

Online Chris Bergin

Thanks!

I highly doubt a commercial company would discuss anything to do with money, other than what they've been allocated by NASA. SpaceX give some loose prices for their launch services, but you can expect nothing else from these people.

And that's totally understandable.

Offline Longhorn John

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Great article. Love the continued baby orbiter references, and this....

"Dream Chaser has already flown, with the ETA enjoying its first taste of the outside like most youngsters – on the end of a safety harness."

Brilliant ;D

Offline yg1968

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Thanks!

I highly doubt a commercial company would discuss anything to do with money, other than what they've been allocated by NASA. SpaceX give some loose prices for their launch services, but you can expect nothing else from these people.

And that's totally understandable.

DC and others will usualy answer that they are trying to be cheaper than the Russians. But it is never clear on how many flights per year and how many passengers per flights are necessary for DC and others to be competitive with Soyuz.

My guess is that they are assuming that NASA will purchase 2 flights pear year with 7 passengers on each flight. NASA has already said that it only wants 4 astronauts per flight but I suppose that the 3 extra seats can either be filled with cargo or by spaceflight participants if NASA ever changes its mind on space tourism to the ISS. HEFT had estimated that each commercial crew flight would cost about $313M per flight. I suspect that it was more than an educated guess on their part. 
« Last Edit: 12/10/2012 05:26 PM by yg1968 »

Offline yg1968

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Good article. I like the new website too.

I have a question on this paragraph:

Quote
SNC added they are also determining the forward path for both the FTA and the third Dream Chaser – known to be the Orbital Vehicle (OV) – meaning there is no official word on whether the FTA will be the first Dream Chaser to fly a test flight in space, ahead of the OV which will be the Dream Chaser capable of carrying out commercial crew missions to the ISS.

Will SNC build the third (OV) DC even if they are not funded past the CCiCap base period or does the third (OV) DC depend on future funding from NASA?

« Last Edit: 12/10/2012 05:28 PM by yg1968 »

Online Chris Bergin

Thanks John and YG.

I'm sure the OV is related to NASA funding continuing, at least the schedule to mid-2010s....but I'll ask them for scenarios in the event they lose out on the down-select.

Offline Star One

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Great article. Personally this is the one of the three commercial vehicles that catches my interest, no doubt because it is a shuttle type vehicle rather than a capsule. :)
« Last Edit: 12/10/2012 08:58 PM by Star One »

Offline Rocket Science

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Nice piece Chris! Let’s start to build up that excitement for the first drop test. Fly little bird fly... ;D
“The laws of physics are unforgiving”...
Rob


Offline john smith 19

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I want to see this thing fly.  I mean, I REALLY want to see this thing fly!
Many people would. It is hands down the most radical aerospace vehicle with a potential to fly in the next 5 years.

Given the approach they've taken and the funds they've received I think their progress has been fantastic. Their gradual upgrading from structural test article to flight test has been a very clever use of limited funds.

The fact they are not a capsule and planning to fly on one of the worlds most reliable LV's would make the idea of "design diversity" a real fact.

At the same time I think we'd all like NASA to fund all 3 designs to completion but that has to be viewed as highly doubtful.

I suspect the fact that Boeing are Boeing and both the other competitors were given about 2x the funding of SNC will count against them.  :(

If funding for the OV does not go ahead I wonder if it would be possible for NASA to certify the design (and SNC's planned build process) for ISS docking if SNC could get the funding to build it?

This would remove a significant obstacle in allowing ISS access to DC and increase investor confidence that NASA was OK with the design, just not actually able to fund it.
"Solids are a branch of fireworks, not rocketry. :-) :-) ", Henry Spencer 1/28/11  Averse to bold? You must be in marketing."It's all in the sequencing" K. Mattingly.  STS-Keeping most of the stakeholders happy most of the time.

Offline Lars_J

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Nice article! I am very excited to see this thing fly - in any shape.

I want to see this thing fly.  I mean, I REALLY want to see this thing fly!
Many people would. It is hands down the most radical aerospace vehicle with a potential to fly in the next 5 years.

What do you mean by "most radical"?
« Last Edit: 12/11/2012 12:04 AM by Lars_J »

Online Todd Martin

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Great update on Dreamchaser.  I've always thought it was a shame that Enterprise was never upgraded from a flight test article (FTA) to an orbital vehicle (OV).  There's a wide range of possibilities as far as how close they adhere to a finished design with a FTA.  I would love to know whether the Dreamchaser FTA will be upgradeable to an OV.

Offline TomH

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I've always thought it was a shame that Enterprise was never upgraded from a flight test article (FTA) to an orbital vehicle (OV).

I always wanted to see that happen, and I thought it might following both Challenger then Columbia. Apparently, thought, every time they built a new orbiter, they found more and more ways to shave more weight. The FTA airframe was apparently too heavy to be worth conversion.

On the cost effectiveness issue, I would think a high flight rate would make the difference. This vehicle should be much more reliable as a reusable vehicle than STS was and her turn around time could become substantially shorter. The TPS issue is substantially less as top-mount on the LV. The highest number of reuses for a capsule that I can remember reading is 10, but I could see a DC being re-certified through 200 flights. Couple that with RTLS and no well-deck ship necessary for recovery, amortized costs over a high flight rate just seems to favor this vehicle.
« Last Edit: 12/11/2012 03:26 AM by TomH »

Offline Khadgars

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I've always thought it was a shame that Enterprise was never upgraded from a flight test article (FTA) to an orbital vehicle (OV).

I always wanted to see that happen, and I thought it might following both Challenger then Columbia. Apparently, thought, every time they built a new orbiter, they found more and more ways to shave more weight. The FTA airframe was apparently too heavy to be worth conversion.

On the cost effectiveness issue, I would think a high flight rate would make the difference. This vehicle should be much more reliable as a reusable vehicle than STS was and her turn around time could become substantially shorter. The TPS issue is substantially less as top-mount on the LV. The highest number of reuses for a capsule that I can remember reading is 10, but I could see a DC being re-certified through 200 flights. Couple that with RTLS and no well-deck ship necessary for recovery, amortized costs over a high flight rate just seems to favor this vehicle.

Hopefully thats true, their only shot I would think is to be able to beat SpaceX on cost?  But then the Atlas V is much more expensive than a Falcon 9

Offline joek

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On the cost effectiveness issue, I would think a high flight rate would make the difference. This vehicle should be much more reliable as a reusable vehicle than STS was and her turn around time could become substantially shorter. The TPS issue is substantially less as top-mount on the LV. The highest number of reuses for a capsule that I can remember reading is 10, but I could see a DC being re-certified through 200 flights. Couple that with RTLS and no well-deck ship necessary for recovery, amortized costs over a high flight rate just seems to favor this vehicle.

At what flight rate--say about 2/yr, which is what appears to be expected for CTS?  I don't see it until/unless there is much greater demand.

Offline Elmar Moelzer

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I always wanted to see that happen, and I thought it might following both Challenger then Columbia. Apparently, thought, every time they built a new orbiter, they found more and more ways to shave more weight. The FTA airframe was apparently too heavy to be worth conversion.

On the cost effectiveness issue, I would think a high flight rate would make the difference. This vehicle should be much more reliable as a reusable vehicle than STS was and her turn around time could become substantially shorter. The TPS issue is substantially less as top-mount on the LV. The highest number of reuses for a capsule that I can remember reading is 10, but I could see a DC being re-certified through 200 flights. Couple that with RTLS and no well-deck ship necessary for recovery, amortized costs over a high flight rate just seems to favor this vehicle.
IIRC, the DreamChaser will still have a turnaround time of 2 months between flights. That is mostly because of the TPS needed a lot of service time. This is IMHO the biggest problem with the concept of the DC, the shape requires a comples TPS like the shuttle's was and that means a lot of inspection work. That will raise the price of operating it.

Offline Lurker Steve

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I always wanted to see that happen, and I thought it might following both Challenger then Columbia. Apparently, thought, every time they built a new orbiter, they found more and more ways to shave more weight. The FTA airframe was apparently too heavy to be worth conversion.

On the cost effectiveness issue, I would think a high flight rate would make the difference. This vehicle should be much more reliable as a reusable vehicle than STS was and her turn around time could become substantially shorter. The TPS issue is substantially less as top-mount on the LV. The highest number of reuses for a capsule that I can remember reading is 10, but I could see a DC being re-certified through 200 flights. Couple that with RTLS and no well-deck ship necessary for recovery, amortized costs over a high flight rate just seems to favor this vehicle.
IIRC, the DreamChaser will still have a turnaround time of 2 months between flights. That is mostly because of the TPS needed a lot of service time. This is IMHO the biggest problem with the concept of the DC, the shape requires a comples TPS like the shuttle's was and that means a lot of inspection work. That will raise the price of operating it.

I thought I read that the TPS was easily replacable, since it was part of a lower shell that comes off in 1 piece. All they need to do is build up a supply of flight-ready TPS.

I doubt any vendor will need to re-fly the same vehicle in less than 2 months anyway.

Offline john smith 19

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What do you mean by "most radical"?

It's planned as a human rated crewed composite vessel lifting body using non-toxic RCS and hybrid LAS/OMS flying on an ELV without a fairing.
If it flies it would shift the current state of practice in materials (The ATK proposal was talking about a composite capsule), aerodynamics (no fairing launch. The X37b is a wing/body design, not an LB) and engine tech (it's a big hybrid but I'm not sure if they are staying with LOX/Ethanol for the RCS).

The Shuttle heritage TPS seems to be the least radical bit of the design.

For near future actual build and flying I'd call that lot a pretty radical collection.
« Last Edit: 12/11/2012 08:27 PM by john smith 19 »
"Solids are a branch of fireworks, not rocketry. :-) :-) ", Henry Spencer 1/28/11  Averse to bold? You must be in marketing."It's all in the sequencing" K. Mattingly.  STS-Keeping most of the stakeholders happy most of the time.

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