Left to right: Sierra Nevada Corp.'s Zachary Krevor, Univ. of Colorado's Eric Hall and Ryan Starkey, and Sierra's Merri Sanchez, perform a post-landing inspection of Sierra Nevada's Dream Chaser scale model following its successful drop flight. (Photo: NASA / Tony Landis)
The Dream Chaser, a reusable space plane currently under development by Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC), is to undergo high altitude drop tests in 2012 following a 25.6 million US dollar boost from NASA to top-off the 80 million US dollar contract awarded earlier this year. But it won't be chasing just any dream. With the retirement of the Space Shuttle Program this year, the very tangible goal is to deliver a low-cost, safe alternative for transporting astronauts and cargo to the International Space Station and other low Earth orbit destinations.