Dream Chaser [SpaceDev]
SpaceDev announced in September 2004, that has begun designing a reuseable, piloted, sub-orbital space ship that could be scaled up to safely and economically transport passengers to and from low earth orbit, including the International Space Station. The name of the vehicle is the SpaceDev Dream Chaser.
Unlike the more complex SpaceShipOne, for which SpaceDev provides critical proprietary hybrid rocket motor propulsion technologies, the SpaceDev Dream Chaser would be crewed and take-off vertically, like most launch vehicles, and will glide back for a normal horizontal runway landing.
The sub-orbital SpaceDev Dream Chaser is derived from the existing X-34 concept and will have an altitude goal of approximately 160 km (about 100 miles) and will be powered by a single, high performance hybrid rocket motor, under parallel development by SpaceDev for the SpaceDev Streaker, a family of small, expendable launch vehicles, designed to affordably deliver small satellites to low earth orbit. The SpaceDev Dream Chaser will use motor technology being developed for the SpaceDev Streaker booster stage, the most powerful motor in the Streaker family. The SpaceDev Dream Chaser motor will produce approximately 100,000 pounds of thrust, about six times the thrust of the SpaceShipOne motor, but less than one-half the thrust of the 250,000 pounds of thrust produced by hybrid rocket motors developed several years ago by the American Rocket Company (AMROC).
SpaceDev's non-explosive hybrid rocket motors use synthetic rubber as the fuel, and nitrous oxide for the oxidizer to make the rubber burn. Traditional rocket motors use two liquids, or a solid propellant that combines the fuel and oxidizer, but both types of rocket motors are explosive, and all solid motors produce copious quantities of toxic exhaust. SpaceDev's hybrid rocket motors are non-toxic and do not detonate like solid or liquid rocket motors.
The suborbital Dream Chaser project was discontinued in favor of an lifting-body type orbital spacecraft, which is to be launched by a dedicated launch vehicle.
|Dream Chaser / Hybrid engine
Source: SpaceDev press release