The construction of the first flight model of the ship Dream Chaser has begun.


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The construction of the first flight model of the ship Dream Chaser has begun.

In recent years, NASA has been organizing cargo delivery to the International Space Station with the involvement of private contractors. The CRS (Commercial Resupply Services) contract was concluded with two companies: SpaceX and Northrop Grumman (originally Orbital ATK, but it was absorbed). This contract will expire soon, and the second phase contract (CRS 2) will come into effect in 2020. Starting from 2021, shiploads to the ISS will be delivered not only by Dragon and Cygnus ships. They will join the ship Dream Chaser company Sierra Nevada Corp (SNC).

Dream Chaser was originally developed for another NASA program, Commercial Crew Development (CCDev), that is, it was supposed to deliver astronauts to the ISS. It was and still remains the only commercial spacecraft of a glider type. The development of the manned version progressed successfully until the unsuccessful trial in the fall of 2013. Layout Dream Chaser had to carry out a soft landing on the highway after dropping from a helicopter, but during landing he had a broken landing gear. The device flew to the side of the road and turned over. In September 2014, the SNC bid for the creation of a manned spacecraft lost to the other two, from SpaceX and Boeing.

Later, SNC developed the concept of the cargo version of its spacecraft, and in 2016, the company successfully won a new NASA contract to supply the ISS. The first launch of the Dream Chaser into space will take place in 2021 on the Atlas V launch vehicle. The cargo version of the ship will differ from its manned prototype in reduced size. In addition, the heat shield was reinforced. There will be no more white heat protection tiles on the surface of the ship, which, in addition to their main role, will enhance the Dream Chaser's meteoritic protection.

The Dream Chaser ship project recently went through one of the important steps in NASA's protection — Integrated Review Milestone 5 (IR5). At this stage, various ground and orbital operations, including loading and unloading operations, were subjected to verification.

Now in the shops of the company Lockheed Martin continues to manufacture an airtight compartment for the first flight instance of the ship Dream Chaser. Photos of the housing, published by Lockheed Martin, are shown below. Upon completion, the hull will be shipped to the SNC manufacturing facility in Louisville.

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