At a media event held recently Lockheed Martin handed over Sierra Nevada Corporation the primary structure of its first spacecraft Dream Chaser to go ahead with the final assembly and test of the vehicle. The company has plans to eventually develop a crewed version of the spacecraft. The structure was developed by Lockheed Martin and shipped from its facility in Fort Worth. The firm’s senior VP of space exploration system Steve Lindsey stated that the structure is quite complex and never has something like this ever been built in aerospace industry. The structure will serve as vehicle’s fuselage around which remaining part of the vehicle will be assembled. The construction work was contributed by Lockheed Martin which used its space and aeronautics expertise to make the composite structure at its facility.
Lisa Callahan, VP of commercial civil space at Lockheed Martin said that they used their knowledge in space business and integrated it with aeronautics division and its manufacturing capabilities to bond all composites together. Program Director of Dream Chaser John Curry stated that other components of the vehicle comprising of its two wings and cargo module will arrive between late this year and towards early part of next year. He explained that the aim is to have a completely assembled vehicle and complete testing operations by April 2021.
After this is completed SNC will fly the vehicle to Plum Brook Station of NASA on a C-5 Galaxy cargo aircraft for three months of environmental testing. During this period the vehicle’s acoustics, vibration and thermal vacuum tests will be conducted. After these are completed the spacecraft will be taken to Kennedy Space Center for final preparation for its launch on United Launch Alliance Vulcan rocket by September 2021. This mission is a first for the company which has to do six more such projects under CRS-2 contract for transportation of cargo to and from International Space Station.