Dream Chaser and the Long History of Lifting Body Spaceplanes

Here is more information on the Sierra Nevada Corporation Dream Chaser spaceplane, which was selected as one of the vehicles to deliver cargo to the International Space Station (ISS) in NASA’s Commercial Resupply Services-2 program. It is scheduled to make its first flight on the second launch of United Launch Alliance’s Vulcan Centaur rocket, whenever that may be.

Once operational, Dream Chaser will be the second cargo spacecraft after SpaceX’s Cargo Dragon capable of returning cargo from the ISS. All other cargo transports are disposed of by burning up in the atmosphere after delivering their cargo to the station.

If successful, Dream Chaser will become the first operational lifting body orbital spacecraft. In the 1980s, the Soviet Union successfully orbited and recovered its half-scale BOR-4 lifting body, which performed water landings after atmospheric reentry. The BOR-4, which completed four successful orbital flights, is strikingly similar in appearance to Dream Chaser.