First mission will serve as opportunity for developing to send to space their own scientific or research experiments. Payload will be delivered to Low Earth Orbit inside cargo section of Sierra Nevada Dream Chaser; is it beginning of new truly international space agency?
Sierra Nevada Corporation management can be satisfied. Their Dream Chaser spaceplane, which went through long way from experimental vehicle to commercial solution for international customers, is first spaceplane which will be used independently from any national space agency. Moreover it will be used during first space mission organized by United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA). This historical moment could be considered as beginning of more active participation of United Nations in space exploration, maybe even beginning of the international space agency – idea of sending Dream Chaser under the flag of UN is supported by DLR (German space agency), ESA (European space agency) and JAXA (Japanese space agency). Under this program UNOOSA will base on cooperation between countries and use different technologies developed by state space agencies and organizations.
Information came directly from Sierra Nevada Corporation and it was announced at September 27, 2016, during International Astronautical Congress in Guadalajara, Mexico. Company confirmed that Dream Chaser was chosen by UNOOSA as cargo vehicle for their project. It was predeceased by signing of Memorandum (MOU) by representatives of UNOOSA and SNC on June 2016. Sierra Nevada Corporation announced that first flight contracted for UNOOSA will be conducted in 2021; Dream Chaser will take up to 25 experiments inside its cargo section and will spent in space 14 days. SNC also declared that UNOOSA is considering seriously next missions with Dream Chaser in future.
First mission will not be limited only to developed countries – representatives of every member of UN can volunteer his country to participate in the program. Selection of the projects for first mission will be finished in 2018 and after, countries and organizations will obtain technical support to help in creating payload meeting demands of low gravity flight. It is very important; probably of most countries chosen to the first mission never have opportunity to participate in any space experiment.
UNOOSA strongly believes, that mission is chance for sponsors and donators around the world and assumes large participation of commercial sector in whole venture. Due the fact of extreme cost of any rocket launch, not to mention about delivering spaceplane to orbit (at presence only USAF is using robotic X-37 vehicle), it is necessary to engage as many Companies as it is possible in sponsoring – particularly in the early phase of program. Good example is SNC, main partner for UNOOSA – first of all it is great marketing opportunity and advertisement of vehicle on international commercial market. Another thing is almost just important as previous factors – starting cooperation with number of developing countries will help in future, when customers among organizations and countries from UNOOSA program will enter the market and seek proven vehicle and reliable partner for their missions. If Dream Chaser will positively go through CRS-2 program (with first flight planned for 2019), UNOOSA launch in 2021 will be the crowning success of SNC.