NASA invested $212 million in Dream Chaser
NASA has recently invested $212 million in Dream Chaser, a lifting body spacecraft project by Sierra Nevada Corporation. The space shuttle launch is scheduled to go into orbit by 2015 on top of an Atlas V rocket. The approach and landing drop tests will be conducted later this year. Being based on NASA’s HL-20 lifting body concept vehicle from the 1980s, Dream Chaser shares a similar operating principle, but is much smaller. It is designed to operate more like a business jet, transporting up to seven people and a little cargo up to the International Space Station in short-term missions. The entire system is safer and cheaper due to the fact that no separate fuel tank or boosters are necessary. Being placed in orbit, the vehicle can dock with the ISS via an airlock at the back. The spacecraft deorbits just like the shuttle, relying on a protective belly to keep it safe during reentry through the atmosphere and using its lifting body design to fly to a landing on a runway.