Flickr  YouTube  Facebook Twitter

Space Exploration Systems

For more than 25 years SNC has been a leader in developing innovative space technologies and integrated systems. We are leveraging our long history and unrivaled record of success to change the way space is accessed, explored and utilized through commercial means.

With so many lessons learned from the storied space shuttle program, we are humbled to be carrying the torch of such a decorated past into the future with our next generation Dream Chaser spacecraft design. SNC is grateful to the thousands of people who have dedicated their lives to supporting NASA’s human spaceflight programs and the 135 space shuttle missions. We look forward to returning a commercial American spacecraft to a runway landing once again.

What is the Dream Chaser® Spacecraft?

SNC's reusable Dream Chaser spacecraft is a multi-mission, commercial, lifting-body vehicle capable of transportation services to low-Earth orbit (LEO) destinations, including the International Space Station (ISS). SNC has developed one common Dream Chaser spacecraft airframe, which we call a Space Utility Vehicle (SUV) due to its mission flexibility. However, there are currently two Dream Chaser variants optimized specifically for either uncrewed or crewed missions, known as the Dream Chaser Cargo System and Dream Chaser Space System, respectively. Additional variants may be developed for future mission needs.

The Dream Chaser Spacecraft Airframe Features Include:

  • Lifting-body spacecraft with the same outer mold line (shape)

  • Capable of autonomous launch, flight and landing (does not require a pilot)

  • High reusability

  • Low 1.5 g atmospheric entry throughout the entire flight profile

  • Gentle runway landing on any compatible commercial runway, both in the United States and internationally

  • Immediate access to crew or cargo upon landing

  • All non-toxic consumables, including propellants - a historic first!

  • Ability to perform an ISS propulsive reboost when docked (lifts ISS to a higher orbital altitude)

Sierra Nevada Corporation Dream Chaser® spacecraft

About the Dream Chaser Variants

The Dream Chaser Cargo System is designed to deliver up to 5,500 kg of pressurized and unpressurized cargo to the ISS with the ability to conduct orbital disposal services and responsively return pressurized cargo at less than 1.5 g’s to a gentle runway landing. This solution meets or exceeds NASA’s current cargo transportation requirements. SNC has created an animated critical cargo mission overview video that demonstrates this capability viewable on our YouTube channel.

The Dream Chaser Space System is designed to be optionally piloted and transport up to seven crew members and cargo to LEO destinations with a gentle return to a runway landing. SNC has created an animated crew mission overview video that demonstrates this capability viewable on our YouTube channel.

Image title

Dream Chaser Cargo System (uncrewed spacecraft) Characteristics:

  • Addition of a disposable cargo module that attaches to the Dream Chaser vehicle greatly increases the amount of upmass pressurized and unpressurized cargo that can be carried

  • Ability to do both orbital disposal and pressurized cargo return on every mission

  • Innovative folding-wing design allows the uncrewed Dream Chaser spacecraft to fit inside existing standard launch vehicle fairings, making it compatible with a suite of current and future launch vehicles. Post-mission, the folding wings also facilitate simple and affordable transportation back to the launch site from a variety of locations since the spacecraft is easily transportable via a multitude of platforms and carriers (ground, sea and air).

  • Addition of solar arrays on the cargo module increase flight time in space

  • Capable of docking or berthing to the ISS      


Image title

Dream Chaser Space System (crewed spacecraft) Characteristics:

  • Addition of an environmental control, life support system and seating capable of transporting a crew of seven and critical cargo to LEO

  • Addition of windows for crew visibility

  • Launches without a fairing, on top of a human-rated United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket with the ability to safely abort to a runway in the event of an emergency

  • Integral main propulsion system for abort capability and major orbital maneuvers

Image title

Dream Chaser Heritage and Program Information

SNC’s Dream Chaser spacecraft has been in development for more than 10 years, including six years as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, and leverages more than 40 years of X-vehicle and NASA space shuttle heritage. To date, SNC has received funding from NASA and has made its own significant investments to mature the Dream Chaser vehicle.

SNC’s Dream Chaser spacecraft leverages over 40 years of NASA X-vehicle and Space Shuttle heritage.

Where is Dream Chaser Built?

The Dream Chaser spacecraft is designed, manufactured, owned and operated by SNC;s Space Systems division based in Louisville, CO. However, SNC has assembled a world-class Dream Team of aerospace companies, NASA centers, universities and international partners collaborating to ensure the Dream Chaser is the safest, most reliable spacecraft in the world. 

Image title

Dream Chaser in relation to the Space Shuttle Orbiters

The Dream Chaser spacecraft is 30 feet, or 9 meters, long which is roughly ¼ the total length of the Space Shuttle orbiters. The spacecraft can carry the same crew size as the Space Shuttle and can remain docked to the ISS considerably longer.

Image title

Want More Dream Chaser Information?

Check out our Media Kit for more images!

Head to our Press Release page to stay updated on Dream Chaser news!

Learn more about Dream Chaser and check out our FAQ!