[SatNews] OHB System AG and the Space Administration of the German Aerospace Center (DLR) signed an agreement providing for the use of funding from the national space program to finance a study to explore possible uses of the U.S. spacecraft Dream Chaser® developed and owned by U.S. company Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC).
Named DC4EU (Dream Chaser for European Utilization), the project is to explore ways in which the Dream Chaser® can be used to cover German and European requirements for the transportation of payloads and astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS) and for deployment as a manned or unmanned space vehicle allowing German and European scientists to conduct research under weightless conditions over extended periods of time.
Given the capability which the Dream Chaser® has for reaching orbits at a substantially greater altitude than the ISS, the study will determine the extent to which it is able to supply satellites or remove decommissioned satellites from their orbits.
The partner in this project is OHB’s Munich-based subsidiary Kayser-Threde, which is developing a payload element for capturing satellites. SNC’s Space Systems located in Louisville, Colorado, will be contributing its expertise for these developments and will work with OHB on a program for the long-term deployment of the Dream Chaser by Europe. This project will complement the Dream Chaser work that SNC is doing with NASA in the United States under NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.
The project participants intend to explore the potential offered by the Dream Chaser® to achieve more intensive scientific use of the ISS and opportunities for high-caliber research in weightless conditions in the post-ISS era. Currently, the members of the ISS program are planning to continue operating the ISS up until 2020 with an option of extending this period.
“Looking forward, DC4EU will provide interested researchers and space agencies with a modern successor to the U.S. space shuttle,” says Dr. Detlev Hüser, head of predevelopment of manned space flight at OHB System, going on to say that “a partnership with the United States will allow Germany to continue participating in manned space flight programs even after the decommissioning of the U.S. space shuttle and the ISS”.
DC4EU seeks to systematically maintain and expand research under weightless conditions and manned space flight capabilities. The project initially entails infrastructure design in the Dream Chaser. In a further step, a reference Dream Chaser® mission is to be defined in conjunction with SNC.
With this project, OHB System is tapping a substantially larger area of business in commercial space transportation and manned space flight.