Why does the Dream Chaser use a skid as the nose landing gear?

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Wouldn't this increase the risk of accidents or damage to the runway when landing on a paved runway?

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Can’t say for sure but removing the tire remove mass, complexity, moving parts, ... all the kind of things space engineers hate. $\endgroup$
    – Antzi
    Commented Dec 11, 2017 at 14:26
  • $\begingroup$ The load on nose landing gear seems to be much lower than on the other landing gear. $\endgroup$
    – Uwe
    Commented Dec 11, 2017 at 16:52
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    $\begingroup$ I agree with @Antzi, pressurized tires which spin and wear and have bearings and rubber are probably way more complex than a simple skid plate which can easily be exchanged. Also, if you watch the video, it balances on its rear wheels for a long time so it's probably very tail heavy. $\endgroup$
    – Dragongeek
    Commented Dec 11, 2017 at 17:17
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    $\begingroup$ Related; question (also a good answer); Runway landing with a front skid instead of wheel - how does steering happen? (Dreamchaser) $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Commented Dec 12, 2017 at 10:04

1 Answer 1


Sierra Nevada Corporation's answer to NASASpaceFlight on this topic in 2012 was the following:

Speaking of the rationale for opting to use a skid strip, SNC noted it is a simple, light, safe option. They also added that there had been some issues with the analysis of the performance of tires in the space environment and this eliminates one of the tires – with the other two tires easier to control than the nose wheel if there’s a problem with one of them.

- SNC outline Dream Chaser’s Enterprise-style landing test approach

As Antzi mentioned in the comments, the overall cost-benefit analysis seems to favour a skid over an additional wheel. I'd love to hear more from the SNC engineers on this, but they seem to be tightlipped on the design choice.


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