Sierra Nevada Corporation's (SNC) Space Systems and partner organization RS&H presented findings regarding the challenges and opportunities of landing the Dream Chaser reusable spacecraft at public-use airports during the Space Traffic Management Conference. The conference was held in November at the Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University campus in Daytona Beach, Florida. RS&H’s Brian Gulliver, PE, is a leader in spaceport planning and licensing and presented the findings at the conference.
The Dream Chaser (pictured left, photo credit SNC) is a unique lifting-body commercial orbital vehicle designed for crewed or uncrewed missions in low-Earth orbit. It is capable of a runway landing nearly anywhere in the world. The SNC and RS&H team has been analyzing the applicable standards and unique requirements that must be addressed to receive approval for the Dream Chaser to land either at a spaceport or commercial airport.
According to a recent article from NASA Spaceflight, the Dream Chaser could follow in the footsteps of the Space Shuttle, a vehicle that had three primary landing sites but also a multitude of alternative, emergency sites. A full landing site option overview showed each site – ranging from Atlantic City International to Amberley in Australia – along with a number of highly sporty landings at some exotic island landing strips – with numerous navigational aids and photography included.