Coming Soon: The Dream Chaser, a Nimbler Space Shuttle

This NASA-funded project could head into orbit within just a few years

(Ken Ulbrich / NASA)

Space Plane

Dream Chaser
(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.


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