Press Release

SpaceDev Announces SpaceDev Dream Chaser(TM) Space Transport System

By SpaceRef Editor
November 16, 2005
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SpaceDev Announces SpaceDev Dream Chaser(TM) Space Transport System

POWAY, Calif. SpaceDev announced today its concept for the SpaceDev Dream Chaser(TM) vehicle, a six-passenger human space transport system based on the ten-passenger HL-20 Personnel Launch System developed by NASA Langley. SpaceDev believes its SpaceDev Dream Chaser(TM) can meet the needs of the rapidly emerging commercial space tourism market, and NASA needs for routine, safe and affordable crew access to the International Space Station. SpaceDev believes SpaceDev Dream Chaser(TM) will be much faster and far less expensive to develop than a new crew launch vehicle as proposed by large aerospace companies.

The design concept for the SpaceDev Dream Chaser(TM), which is the same size but lighter than the ten-passenger NASA HL-20 vehicle, is also suitable for safe, affordable sub-orbital space tourism applications. The long-term SpaceDev Dream Chaser(TM) design plan includes a scaled-up version of SpaceDev’s non-explosive, rubber-burning hybrid rocket motors. SpaceDev’s proprietary hybrid rocket motor technology successfully powered Paul Allen’s SpaceShipOne on its historic X Prize winning flights to space last year. To lower risk and cost, the SpaceDev Dream Chaser(TM) system is anticipated to combine existing and proven designs and technologies.

“When our focus was on supporting the development of suborbital space tourism two years ago, SpaceDev engineers selected the NASA X-34 vehicle design which was good for suborbital,” said Jim Benson, SpaceDev’s founding chairman and chief executive. “Since then, national focus has changed to a Shuttle replacement, and we believe that our new SpaceDev Dream Chaser(TM) vehicle concept is ideal for both suborbital and orbital applications. However, funding is needed if we are going to be able to pursue this exciting new concept.”

In 2004, SpaceDev signed a Space Act agreement with NASA Ames Research Center to explore various designs for safe, affordable sub-orbital and orbital human space flight. SpaceDev’s initial in-house study analyzed and compared various higher performance hybrid-based propulsion modules and passenger vehicle designs. Detailed, comparative launch trajectory and re-entry analyses were performed in conjunction with the NASA Ames thermal protection team in order to evaluate the performance requirements for the propulsion modules, and to define a thermal protection system that would provide the cost, performance and safety necessary for routine passenger flights to low orbit and back.

“Recent studies have shown great potential for a commercial suborbital space tourism market, and we believe SpaceDev Dream Chaser(TM) is the best solution,” said Benson. “NASA Administrator Mike Griffin has stated a desire to purchase crew and cargo services from the private sector, and we believe that we can provide safer and less expensive human transport to low earth orbit and to the Space Station than current multi-billion dollar development projects. By aiming for safe and affordable orbital operations, we get suborbital capabilities for ‘free’.”

A predecessor to the NASA HL-20 design reached orbit and re-entered safely. The SpaceDev Dream Chaser(TM) uses the same outer mold line (shape) as the HL-20 Personnel Launch System, but would fly six passengers instead of the HL-20 ten passengers, thus saving weight, which may improve handling. SpaceDev personnel flew an HL-20 simulation in the Vertical Motion Simulator at NASA Ames, and found that landing the SpaceDev Dream Chaser(TM) may be very similar to landing the Shuttle.

The suborbital SpaceDev Dream Chaser(TM) is envisioned to use internal hybrid rocket motors and is designed to launch vertically from a simple launch pad at any commercial spaceport. The orbital version of SpaceDev Dream Chaser(TM) is proposed to launch on the side of three large hybrid boosters. Unlike the Shuttle, the orbital SpaceDev Dream Chaser(TM) system is not anticipated to use cryogenic propellants, thus it is anticipated that no foam insulation and no ice will hit the SpaceDev Dream Chaser(TM) vehicle. SpaceDev selection criteria included basing its human space transport system on existing technology, the HL-20, and on scaled-up hybrid rocket motors. SpaceDev believes this combination should save time and money, and could result in a safe and affordable vehicle.

Subject to the availability of adequate funding, sources for which have not yet been identified, the initial SpaceDev Dream Chaser(TM) development plan includes milestones for multiple manned sub-orbital test flights by 2008, and manned test flights to orbit by 2010. SpaceDev believes that its corporate culture and proven track record of rapidly and successfully developing innovative space technologies could provide the right environment in which SpaceDev could design and develop a complete human space flight system for a fraction of the cost of traditional Shuttle replacement programs.

About SpaceDev

SpaceDev (OTCBB: SPDV – News) is a high tech space development company that creates and sells affordable and innovative space products and solutions to government and commercial enterprises. SpaceDev’s innovations include the design, manufacture, marketing and operation of sophisticated micro- and nano-satellites. SpaceDev designs and builds safe hybrid rocket motor propulsion systems for sub-orbital and orbital transportation systems for cargo and for human space flight. Upon founding SpaceDev in 1997, Jim Benson started the trend of successful computer entrepreneurs moving into the space development arena. For more information, visit

Except for the factual statements made herein, the information contained in this news release consists of forward-looking statements that involve risks, uncertainties and assumptions that are difficult to predict. Words and expressions reflecting optimism and satisfaction with current prospects, as well as words such as “believe,” “intends,” “expects,” “plans,” “anticipates” and variations thereof, identify forward-looking statements, but their absence does not mean that a statement is not forward looking. Forward-looking statements are based on the Company’s current expectations. Such forward-looking statements are not guarantees of performance and the Company’s actual results could differ materially from those contained in such statements. Factors that could cause or contribute to such differences include risks and uncertainties associated with the execution of the Company’s business plan; the ability of the Company to raise additional capital on acceptable terms; market acceptance of the Company’s products; worldwide spending levels in the space industry; rescheduling or cancellation of customer orders or government contracts; unforeseen development challenges and delays; general competition and price pressures in the marketplace; the introduction of new products by competitors that might be competitive in price and features; manufacturing difficulties; the Company’s ability to control costs and expenses; and general economic conditions. Reference is also made to other factors set forth in the Company’s filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, including “Management’s Discussion and Analysis” and other sections of the Company’s Form 10-KSB currently on file with the SEC. These forward-looking statements speak only as of the date of this release and the Company undertakes no obligation to update publicly any forward-looking statements to reflect new information, events or circumstances after the date of this release.


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SpaceRef staff editor.