Dream Chaser® Spaceplane Mockup Delivered to NASA's Johnson Space Center for Astronaut Training
September 08, 2020
The Space Vehicle Mockup Facility (SVMF) at NASA’s Johnson Space Center (JSC) recently received a brand new addition! Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) delivered a mockup of our Dream Chaser® spaceplane to the facility. Its arrival to the SVMF, or more commonly known as Building 9, is crucial to preparing astronauts for when Dream Chaser arrives at the International Space Station.
Krista A. is a systems engineer on the Dream Chaser team. She oversaw the development of the build of the mockup, which started last November, to its delivery in August. She says there’s good reason why a side of the mockup is missing! “We’re trying to make training a little easier on the astronauts and their trainers. With the side removed, it’s easier for an instructor and students to step inside and work together in a particular area, without having to crouch down or crawl the length of the vehicle.”
Astronauts will receive their initial training on Dream Chaser using SNC’s full-scale mockup at our production facility in Louisville, Colorado. The primary purpose of the mockup at JSC is to provide a refresher for crew members, since their initial training in Louisville is often years before they actually fly. There’s also a secondary purpose: the mockup provides the JSC flight control team a high-fidelity structure for engineering evaluations. Krista gives us an example, “say, during a mission the crew is directed to load an unexpected and oddly shaped item into Dream Chaser for return, the flight control team can run over to Building 9 and test out the strapping plan we provide and verify the hardware fits through our hatchway.”
Ahead of any training, SNC will be further outfitting the mockup by adding crew interface hardware to the hatches, installing ventilation ducts and providing cargo restraints such as straps.
The mockup will remain at JSC for the foreseeable future as long as Dream Chaser is flying and crew members need to be trained.
Check out our video below to see Krista’s favorite part of her trip to JSC, seeing the mockup lifted by crane and ‘flown’ into its final position. She says she couldn’t help but imagine that soon, Dream Chaser will be flying without the crane!