The Benson Dream Chaser will let a lucky few
people in a few short years, do just that - chase their dreams
of going to suborbital space. What happens when you cross
the NASA and Air Force Bell X-2, North American X-15, and
Northrop T-38 vehicles? Why it's the latest rendition of the
Dream Chaser of course.
The Benson Space Dream Chaser (also called the SpaceDev Dream
Chaser) is one of the newest space tourism spacecrafts from
Benson Space Company out of Poway, California.
SpaceDev is the developer on the project who also made the
critical components for the Scaled Composites SpaceShipOne,
which made a historical trip into suborbital space in 2004,
winning the $10 million Anasari X-Prize.
Benson Space Company has melded the three vehicles to come
up with the optimum spacecraft, instead of going with an earlier
model that used the orbital NASA HL-20 lifting body craft.
Jim Benson, the head of Benson Space Company has said that
the new design is "safer and better."
The new design of the Dream Chaser has also been seen as
the optimal spacecraft for the new market of space tourism
with many large windows and a less stressful trip for passengers.
The Dream Chaser is also more aerodynamic than past mock-ups
and is on schedule for its first commercial flight in 2009.
The Dream Chaser is going to be powered by non-explosive
hybrid rocket motors, and it will be able to launch vertically
and then glide to a landing at the same place where it launched.
The new design gives the rocket less drag, so it requires
less propulsion from the engines.
After the Dream Chaser reaches about 63 miles, it will return
for a re-entry that will subject the passengers to G-forces
that are smaller than normal, even when traveling 3,000 mph.
Benson believes that his company is ahead of other companies
in the space commercialism world because his rocket is so
sleek and simple.
While other companies are running into major design issues
and getting behind schedule on their launches, the Dream Chaser
is right on target. When it comes time to launch the new vehicle,
the mission control center will be state of the art.
There will also be a hands-on opportunity for families to
get into the Dream Chaser before launch to check it out. They
can take a look at the spacecraft that their loved one will
be going into space in, which will quell much anxiety on the
part of the family.
Near the Dream Chaser, there will also be first-class hotel
accommodations and a launch-viewing lounge for the families
to sit in while their family member is making history as one
of the first people to see the earth from space as a tourist.
Benson Space is currently taking reservations for the Dream
Chaser flight, which will cost in the neighborhood of between
$200,000 and $300,000. For a fully refundable security deposit
of $25,000 you can book your way onto this historic flight