By Karen Morfitt
LOUISVILLE, Colo. (CBS4) – Colorado continues to leave its mark in space. Scientists at Sierra Nevada in Louisville have unveiled a full-scale Dream Chaser mock-up.
“It’s going to make it such that your kids or your kids’ kids are actually going to be able to go to space,” Dream Chaser Program Director John Curry said.
While the spacecraft may one day have that ability, Curry says its current capability is unlike any other.
“This is a game-changing technology everything that we are doing here at Dream Chaser is about increasing the science capability,” he said.
Dream Chaser will not have a crew but instead autonomously fly more than 12,000 pounds of cargo and science experiments to the International Space Station and return with the results.
“The International Space Station is a science lab so we are trying to make sure we can get the experiments back to the experimenter as quickly as possible,” Curry said.
Last year the Dream Chaser made a successful free flight and landing.
Now his team at Sierra Nevada Corporation is using a full-scale pressurized Dream Chaser mock-up to practice loading and unloading cargo.
“This is actually a way to demonstrate that we can actually get all the critical cargo loaded within the last 24 hours before launch so we can demonstrate that with this very flight-like system to prove to NASA we can meet the requirements,” Curry said.
For nearly 10 years, he and his team have worked to make Dream Chaser what it is today.
“This is my life, he said. “I spent my whole life getting to this point. I wanted to see our ability to change the world this thing is going to change the world.”
There are 550 to 600 people working on Dream Chaser. About 400 of them are in Colorado.
Dream Chaser will launch on its first mission to the space station in late 2020.
Karen Morfitt joined the CBS4 team as a reporter in 2013. She covers a variety of stories in and around the Denver metro area. Connect with her on Facebook, follow her on Twitter @karenmorfitt or email her tips.