Coming Soon: The Dream Chaser, a Nimbler Space Shuttle
This NASA-funded project could head into orbit within just a few years
- By Joseph Stromberg
- Smithsonian magazine, July-August 2013,
(Ken Ulbrich / NASA)
But the Dream Chaser is no cold war relic. Conceived as a smaller, nimbler version of the space shuttle—a mere 29.5-feet long, compared with the 122-foot-long shuttle orbiter—the reusable space plane is designed to carry as many as seven crew members to the International Space Station or low-Earth orbit, and is versatile enough to be launched atop a variety of rockets. Like the space shuttle, it’s built to make an airplane-style “soft” landing on a runway. By contrast, the other shuttle replacements in development, one manufactured by Boeing and the other by Space X, land as parachute-aided capsules.