The Sierra Nevada Corp. (SNC) and the United Nations Office of Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) announced details of the first United Nations space mission using the Dream Chaser spacecraft on Sept. 27 at the International Astronautical Congress in Guadalajara, Mexico. The spacecraft is expected to launch in 2021 and will be used by United Nations Member States during their 14-day flight to low-Earth orbit (LEO).
This mission aims to provide developing nations that do not have the financial resources the chance to develop and fly microgravity payloads. All United Nations Member States, including the richest ones, will still be able to propose payloads for the Dream Chaser Mission.
“One of UNOOSA’s core responsibilities is to promote international cooperation in the peaceful use of outer space,” adds Simonetta Di Pippo, director of UNOOSA, in a statement. “I am proud to say that one of the ways UNOOSA will achieve this, in cooperation with our partner SNC, is by dedicating an entire microgravity mission to United Nations Member States, many of which do not have the infrastructure or financial backing to have a standalone space program.”
The funding of this mission would come from multiple sources, adds the UNOOSA director. There would be major sponsors to fund a large portion of the mission costs. Still, the nations chosen to provide mission payloads will be asked to contribute an amount for the mission cost, depending on the resources needed to host their payload as well as their ability to pay.
Payloads will be chosen in the early part of 2018 so there would be enough time for their integration and development in the spacecraft. UNOOSA will also offer technical support to countries that do not have the experience or ability in developing microgravity payloads.
The Dream Chaser is not only reusable, it is also designed to land at commercial airports or spaceports so it can land on the member state supplying a payload on the mission. As of now, the SNC is still in talks with airports and spaceports to be approved of a Federal Aviation Administration re-entry license.