Testing for Dream Chaser Space System completed

May 15, 2012

NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., successfully completed wind tunnel testing for Sierra Nevada Corp. (SNC) Space Systems of Louisville, Colo. The test will provide aerodynamic data that will aid in the design of the new Dream Chaser Space System.

During tests at Marshall’s facility, a scale model of SNC's orbital crew vehicle was mounted on a scale model of the United Launch Alliance’s Atlas V launch vehicle. Over 400 data runs were performed at subsonic, transonic and supersonic speeds to study the effects of how air moves past the model. Nine full-stack configurations were tested over a Mach range of .4, or 304 miles per hour at sea level, to Mach 5, or 3,800 miles per hour at sea level, at various launch vehicle roll angles.

The data generated from this test series, coupled with data from computational fluid dynamics studies, will define the aerodynamic characteristics of the Dream Chaser - Atlas V launch stack during the ascent phase of flight. Obtaining this data will enable higher-fidelity loads analysis, better definition of launch vehicle performance, and will aid in further refining Dream Chaser’s trajectory design for orbital vehicle launches.

“We’re glad Marshall could support SNC in completing these quickly and affordably and early in the design phase,” said Teresa Vanhooser, manager of the Flight Programs and Partnerships Office at Marshall. “Our trisonic wind tunnel and engineering staff helps partners understand the aerodynamic integrity and stability of spacecraft and launch vehicles, like the Dream Chaser, over a variety of wind speeds and phases of flight.”

Mark Sirangelo, corporate vice president and head of SNC's Space Systems, said: "The Dream Chaser Program is grateful for the opportunity to leverage the experience, expertise, and resources of Marshall, made possible by the unique government-commercial partnership created through NASA's Commercial Crew Development Program. Sierra Nevada Corporation looks forward to expanding our successful relationship with Marshall, as well as creating new business opportunities in the Huntsville area."

Marshall's Aerodynamic Research Facility’s 14-inch trisonic wind tunnel is an intermittent, blow-down tunnel that operates from high-pressure storage to either vacuum or atmospheric exhaust. The facility is capable of conducting tests in the subsonic, transonic and supersonic mach ranges using its two interchangeable test sections. Subsonic Mach numbers are below Mach 1, the speed of sound, or 760 miles per hour at sea level, while transonic speeds approach and are slightly above Mach 1. The facility can achieve a maximum supersonic Mach number of 5, or five times the speed of sound.

SNC is currently one of the Commercial Crew Development (CCDev) partners awarded funding under a Space Act Agreement to mature their Dream Chaser orbital crew transportation system. NASA’s CCDev effort is being led by NASA’s Kennedy Space Center and supported by NASA technical experts across the agency, including the Marshall Center for a variety of technical areas.

The effort to define the aerodynamic characteristics of the Dream Chaser is being conducted under a reimbursable Act Agreement funded by SNC and executed with the support of aerodynamicists and wind tunnel experts from the Marshall Center and United Launch Alliance.

Explore further: Orbital crew vehicle tested in Texas A&M's low-speed wind tunnel

Related Stories

Image: Dream Chaser buffet wind tunnel model

May 8, 2012

(Phys.org) -- The Dream Chaser model with its Atlas V launch vehicle is undergoing final preparations at the Aerospace Composite Model Development Section's workshop for buffet tests at the Transonic Dynamics Tunnel at NASA ...

NASA Tests Launch Abort System At Supersonic Speeds

July 20, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- Aerospace engineers at NASA's Ames Research Center are conducting a series of wind tunnel tests to develop technology for future human space exploration. Using a six percent scale Orion model, featuring complex ...

Image: X-51A Makes Longest Scramjet Flight

June 3, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- The X-51A successfully made the longest supersonic combustion ramjet-powered hypersonic flight to date off the southern California coast on May 26. It was powered by a SJX61-2 that was first validated in ...

Recommended for you

Mars rover Opportunity on walkabout near rim

June 23, 2017

NASA's senior Mars rover, Opportunity, is examining rocks at the edge of Endeavour Crater for signs that they may have been either transported by a flood or eroded in place by wind.

CHESS mission will check out the space between stars

June 23, 2017

Deep in space between distant stars, space is not empty. Instead, there drifts vast clouds of neutral atoms and molecules, as well as charged plasma particles called the interstellar medium—that may, over millions of years, ...

Dutch astronomers discover recipe to make cosmic glycerol

June 23, 2017

A team of laboratory astrophysicists from Leiden University (the Netherlands) managed to make glycerol under conditions comparable to those in dark interstellar clouds. They allowed carbon monoxide ice to react with hydrogen ...

Scientists uncover origins of the Sun's swirling spicules

June 22, 2017

At any given moment, as many as 10 million wild jets of solar material burst from the sun's surface. They erupt as fast as 60 miles per second, and can reach lengths of 6,000 miles before collapsing. These are spicules, and ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.