While Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) aldready had a long standing relationship with the Boeing/Lockheed Martin co-owned United Launch Alliance (ULA) and originally planned to launch its Dream Chaser unmanned mini-shuttle using its Atlas V offering, times have moved on.

Under a newly signed contract, from late 2021 onwards SNC’s Dream Chaser will fly six times on ULA’s successor to the Atlas V, its new Vulcan rocket.  The missions are to carry upto 5,400 kg of cargo on behalf of NASA to the International Space Station under its Commercial Resupply Services 2 (CRS 2) contract with NASA.  The Dream Chaser mini-shuttle will also have the ability to return 3,175 kg of cargo back to Earth, landing it on the runway at Kennedy Space Center, Florida.

Exploded view of the Vulcan rocket with the folded-wing Dream Chaser payload. Courtesy: ULA

The launches will use a version using the 5 m diameter fairing which can totally encapsulate the folding-wing Dream Chaser protecting it from aerodynamic forces during launch.  The rocket will also use four solid rocket boosters as well as an upper stage powered by two Centaur rocket engines. Before the flights take place, the Vulcan will be flown on a shake down maiden flight.

Update on 21 August 2019: On 20 August, Astrobiotic announced that it had moved the planned launch of its Peregrine lunar lander from its planned Atlas V launch to a ULA Vulcan rocket.