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Dream Chaser Spaceplane Undergoes Extreme Testing at NASA's Armstrong Facility
"Here, we have some of the world's largest and most capable simulation and test facilities to test the harsh conditions that spacecraft will experience during launch and in flight." Dr. Jimmy Kenyon Center Director of NASA's Glenn Research Center in Cleveland
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Dream Chaser Spaceplane Undergoes Extreme Testing at NASA's Armstrong Facility
by Clarence Oxford
Los Angeles CA (SPX) Feb 08, 2024

At NASA's Neil Armstrong Test Facility in Sandusky, Ohio, Sierra Space's Dream Chaser spaceplane, paired with its Shooting Star cargo module, has captivated media and space industry professionals alike. Illuminated by soft blue lights, the 55-foot-tall assembly stands ready, undergoing a series of tests designed to simulate the harsh realities of space travel.

Dr. Jimmy Kenyon, the center director of NASA Glenn in Cleveland, emphasized the significance of the Armstrong Test Facility, describing it as one of NASA Glenn Research Center's most vital assets. "Here, we possess some of the world's largest and most capable simulation and test facilities," Kenyon stated, highlighting their role in preparing spacecraft for the extreme conditions encountered during launch and in-flight operations.

The Dream Chaser and its Shooting Star module were subjected to the world's most powerful spacecraft shaker system, exposing them to launch-like vibrations and re-entry forces. This step is crucial for ensuring that the spacecraft's systems can withstand the rigors of launch and the subsequent return to Earth's atmosphere.

Following the vibration tests, the Dream Chaser will be transferred to a massive, in-ground vacuum chamber, continuing its journey through simulated space conditions. Here, it will face low ambient pressures, cold-background temperatures, and dynamic solar heating, replicating the environment it will encounter on its mission to space.

This comprehensive testing regimen is paving the way for Dream Chaser's inaugural uncrewed demonstration flight to the International Space Station (ISS) later this year, under NASA's Commercial Resupply Program. For its debut flight, the spaceplane is tasked with delivering over 7,800 pounds of cargo to the ISS, marking a significant milestone in commercial space resupply efforts.

The collaboration between NASA and commercial entities like Sierra Space is fostering a new era of space exploration, characterized by increased human presence, scientific research, and commercial opportunities in orbit. Tom Vice, CEO of Sierra Space, shared his vision during the event, stating, "We collectively, NASA and Sierra Space, go to space to benefit life on Earth." He underscored the ongoing industrial revolution in space, pointing to the signs of humanity entering the orbital age.

As the Dream Chaser moves through its testing phases at the Armstrong Test Facility, the project symbolizes not just a leap forward for Sierra Space and NASA, but a testament to the collaborative spirit driving the next wave of space exploration. This partnership is set to expand the frontiers of human knowledge and commercial activity in space, promising benefits for humanity that are as vast as space itself.

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Shake, rattle and launch: Dream Chaser spaceplane passes vibration test
Sandusky, United States (AFP) Feb 1, 2024
Sierra Space's shuttle-like Dream Chaser has been put through its paces at a powerful NASA vibration facility that mimics conditions during launch and atmospheric reentry, officials said Thursday ahead of its planned first flight to the ISS this year. The first spaceplane of a planned line, Tenacity, was completed at the company's factory in Louisville, Colorado in November and then shipped to NASA's Neil Armstrong Test Facility in Sandusky, Ohio. There, it was exposed to the Mechanical Vibratio ... read more

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