The wings for the Dream Chaser spaceplane are officially being integrated on Sierra Nevada Corporation’s (SNC) production floor in Louisville, Colorado. Although the wings arrived earlier in the year, engineers and technicians needed to wait for the arrival of the wing assembly jig in order for the assembly, integration and testing process to begin.
SNC worked closely with engineers at Models and Tools, located in Detroit, Michigan, to design the wing tooling unique for the wing build.
Both wings were placed in their jigs and rotated simultaneously. This was a unique occurrence because it took coordination from both first and second shift crews. The simultaneous rotation allowed both shifts to see all angles of the wings and go through the step by step instructions they needed to follow in order to build the wings out.
The tooling is mission critical, and the rotation of the tooling allows for access and installation of critical components with very tight tolerance to ensure mission success.
More than 65 individual pieces need to be installed to the wings to make them fully functional, not including the Thermal Protection System tiles, which give the wings their black and white color. The first installation will be the hard points. Those are pieces of hardware that give the engineers and technicians handling points to allow for installation to Dream Chaser.
The wings are expected to be installed to Dream Chaser by summer 2021.