Rapid Access:Dream Chaser® Space Traffic Management and Operations to Enable Near-Immediate Payload Access for Responsive Mission and Payload Support
Taylor, Frank W., et al. (2015). "Rapid Access:Dream Chaser® Space Traffic Management and Operations to Enable Near-Immediate Payload Access for Responsive Mission and Payload Support." AIAA SPACE 2015 Conference and Exposition
As research institutions all over the world are placing a higher value on space-based science, the need for rapid access to vehicles returning from space carrying experiments grows more important. One of the challenges of enhanced science utilization is rapid access to space vehicles post-flight, which is significantly enabled by effective space traffic management and integration of space operations into a mature commercial aviation system to achieve radically improved orbit to researcher timelines. Sierra Nevada Corporation’s (SNC) Space Systems’ Dream Chaser® reusable spacecraft is designed for multiple applications including cargo and/or crew resupply to the International Space Station and independent long duration science missions. The Dream Chaser is an optionally-piloted, reusable lifting-body spacecraft that lands horizontally on a runway, similar to the Space Shuttle. Unlike the Space Shuttle, the Dream Chaser design supports the unique capability of being able to land at many domestic and international commercial and public-use airports, and offers access to cargo and/or crew almost immediately thereafter. Though this capability presents a unique opportunity for researchers in the field of microgravity science, there are challenges when considering the current landscape of regulation, public risk, and autonomous flight. The potential opportunities associated with landing the Dream Chaser at public-use airports to enable globally convenient and rapid access to crew, cargo, and time critical microgravity experiments post-flight are identified and addressed in this paper.