Benson Space Unveils New Dream Chaser Design
Dream Chaser's new suborbital design will be based on a melding of the NASA and Air Force X-2, X-15, and T-38 vehicles - rather than using the orbital NASA HL-20 lifting body craft. Image
Credit: Benson Space Company

DALLAS, Texas - Space entrepreneur, Jim Benson, head of Benson Space Company of Poway, California is set to announce a fresh approach in the design of his firm?s ?Dream Chaser? space tourism vehicle.

The firm?s new suborbital design will be based on a melding of the NASA and Air Force X-2, X-15, and T-38 vehicles - rather than using an earlier design - the orbital NASA HL-20 lifting body craft. The new NASA/Air Force-derived design is ?safer and better,? Benson said. [see image]

A five month-long study by SpaceDev and Benson Space Company (BSC) has determined that this new design will provide ?the first, safest and best astronaut-making spaceflights for the emerging space tourism market.? The announcement is slated to occur during the National Space Society?s International Space Development Conference that gets underway here this week.

This new design is deemed safer and more aerodynamic, Benson said. It will also allow Benson Space Company to remain on schedule to make its initial commercial spaceflights in 2009.

Large windows, good view

The new Dream Chaser spaceship design is lighter and sleeker, Benson is reporting, resulting in less drag and requiring less propulsion than the earlier HL-20 design.

The vehicle is to be powered by safe hybrid rocket motors, will launch vertically, followed by glide to a landing at the launch site.

A safer ?carefree reentry? -- after achieving an altitude of at least 65 miles ? Benson reports, will subject passengers to minimal G-forces, compared to other designs. It will also have many large, well-placed windows for ideal passenger views of the Earth and space during the suborbital trek.

While the new design is safer and more aerodynamic, Benson noted, it will also be easier and faster to construct, allowing BSC to remain on-schedule to make its initial commercial spaceflights in 2009. The aim is to provide the first, safest and best astronaut-making spaceflights for the emerging space tourism market, he added.

Better ride, more spectacular views

?During the past two months a small, highly experienced team has taken a fresh look and concluded that we can do better,? Benson noted in a press statement.

?To that end, the new spaceship will incorporate the best elements selected from other successful vehicles. This will result in a spaceship that provides a better ride and even more spectacular views, and at this early stage we will lose little time in bringing it to the commercial market,? Benson explained.

Established in September 2006, Benson Space Company seeks to provide the first, safest and lowest cost astronaut-making spaceflights for the emerging personal spaceflight market. BSC is currently developing Dream Chaser spaceships -- based on proven designs ? that the firm anticipates will allow them to offer the world?s first, commercial, suborbital spaceflights.

NOTE: The views of this article are the author's and do not reflect the policies of the National Space Society.

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