“The story began on June 3, 1982, when a camera in an Australian P-3 patrol plane captured images of a Soviet ship recovering a space craft from the Indian Ocean….”
The craft that was seen was a Soviet BOR-4 vehicle.The BOR-4 was a half scale prototype of a space plane to test the upcoming Buran’s heat shields. Since the vehicle was not equipped with a landing gear it was required to land in water. The flight that was viewed was the BOR-4 #2 Cosmos 1374 flight (details here on flight and recovery). There were 3 more flights that followed.
The BOR-4 was the inspiration and design basis for the American HL-20.
The HL-20 has been a great complimentary design to the Space Shuttle over the years. Much smaller at only 29 feet and weighing 22,000 pounds compared to the Shuttle’s empty weight of 185,000 pounds.
In April NASA awarded the Sierra Nevada Corporation 80 million dollars to continue development of the HL-20 “Dream Chaser” design.
“SNC has been developing the Dream Chaser for 6 years, most recently through a partnership with NASA under the Commercial Crew Development One (CCDev1) program. During the CCDev1 program SNC successfully completed all milestones on schedule and under budget. During this program in 2010, SNC integrated the efforts of this powerful team of aerospace companies to significantly advance the development of the Dream Chaser. The team completed hybrid rocket motor test firings, primary structure fabrication and testing, significant aerodynamic analysis and guidance, navigation and control development. These activities significantly reduced risk associated with the development of a human spacecraft.” -Sierra Nevada Corp.
Does the Dream Catcher offer a viable replacement of the Space Shuttle as a crew transport vehicle? I am looking forward to future flight and milestone developments.