LOUISVILLE, Colo. — After years in the making, the world's first commercial space plane, Dream Chaser, will soon be shipped from Louisville, Colorado, to a NASA facility in Ohio.
Denver7 first showed you Dream Chaser and the Sierra Space facility in October 2022. Our crew checked out the finishing touches Monday before the plane makes its way to the Neil Armstrong Test Facility in Sandusky, Ohio, roughly 57 miles west of Cleveland.
The first spacecraft of the Dream Chaser series, Tenacity, is set to launch from the Kennedy Space Center next year.
"There are over 2,000 tiles on this vehicle,” said Sierra Space Chief Safety Officer Angie Wise.
World's first commercial space plane being built in Louisville
Dream Chaser is the first spacecraft design to feature folded wings that won't open until the plane is in space. Each flight will be unmanned, with the goal of delivering cargo to the International Space Station (ISS). There are at least seven planned missions to and from the ISS.
"We'll walk over here to Cargo Module 2, because you'll notice Cargo Module 1 is no longer in our facility,” said Wise.
Cargo Module 1 is en route to NASA. It attaches to the back of the space plane and will hold the cargo. Once the Dream Chaser gets to the ISS, the module will be unloaded and then reloaded with unwanted material. The cargo will burn up upon re-entry into the atmosphere once Dream Chaser's mission is complete.
"So, we know we have to build at least seven cargo modules to support those NASA missions,” said Wise.
It’s the company's first large-scale contract with NASA.
Sierra Space is building a second Dream Chaser space plane. Each plane can fly up to 15 times, according to Wise. Tenacity and the second plane will be used for the seven ISS missions.
"We're essentially getting [Tenacity] ready for shipping. So, check out that landing gear. We're going to put everything back in, stow it, move it onto that fixture and get her out of here,” said Wise.
Tenacity will undergo environmental testing once it's at NASA’s facility in Ohio, which could take one to three months. Then, it will be shipped to the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.