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Sierra Nevada Looks at X-34 as Testbed for Dream Chaser Space Shuttle

By Doug Messier
Parabolic Arc
December 3, 2010
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Absent their vertical tails, the two X-34 aircraft were convoyed from NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center to the north gate of Edwards Air Force Base via Rosamond Boulevard Tuesday morning, and then overnight on Highway 58 to the Mojave Air and Spaceport Wednesday. (Credit: NASA Dryden/Tony Landis)

Sierra Nevada Studying X-34 As Rocket Testbed
Aviation Week

Sierra Nevada is emerging as the likely front runner to use the former NASA X-34 reusable launch vehicle demonstrator as a flying testbed for its Dream Chaser orbital space vehicle….

Sierra Nevada Executive Vice President Mark Sirangelo confirms the company is studying the X-34 for a supporting role in the Dream Chaser development effort. “We are interested in this project with our interest being adapting our hybrid rocket motor for our orbital space vehicle Dream Chaser program to the X-34 as a test platform.”

Although Sirangelo says it remains too early to provide further details, he says the X-34 could likely be adapted for carriage beneath the Scaled Composites-built WhiteKnightTwo mothership, as well as the Orbital L-1011 which last carried the vehicle aloft for three flights in 1999.

Sierra Nevada says each of the seven-seat vehicle’s multiple hybrid motors will produce about 100,000 lb. thrust, or about six times the thrust of the SpaceShipOne rocket motor.

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