Sierra Nevada Corporation Meets NASA Milestone; Signs Deal With Japan

Image Earlier this week, the Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) announced that it had achieved another technical milestone under its $212.5 million Commercial Crew Integrated Capability contract with NASA. The contract is aimed at aiding SNC in the development of its Dream Chaser spacecraft, a reusable spacecraft which is designed to carry astronauts into low Earth orbit and, the company hopes, carry NASA astronauts to the International Space Station.

To achieve this milestone in the contract, SNC had to carry out rigorous testing of five different systems: Crew Systems, Environmental Control and Life Support Systems, Structures, Thermal Control and Thermal Protection Systems. Over 3500 tests were conducted over the course of the past year, including tests of its propulsion system, which were completed earlier this month to meet another of SNC’s NASA milestones.

“By thoroughly assessing and mitigating each of the previously identified design risks, SNC is continuing to prove that Dream Chaser is a safe, robust, and reliable spacecraft,” SNC’s VP of Space Systems Mark N. Sirangelo said in a statement.

In addition to announcing completion of its NASA milestones, Sierra Nevada also announced this week that it has signed a memorandum of cooperative understanding with the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA).

As part of this agreement, JAXA and SNC will explore the possibility of integrating Japanese technologies into the Dream Chaser project. This may lead to JAXA using the Dream Chaser spacecraft for its own missions, and the two will also explore the possibility of Dream Chaser launches and landings in Japan itself.

This isn’t the first international space agency that SNC has been working with. In January of this year, SNC signed agreements with the European Space Agency and the German Aerospace Center to similarly explore how the Dream Chaser could be used to advance the spacefaring goals of those agencies.

The first launch of the Dream Chaser into orbit is currently scheduled for November of 2016. (Alex Knapp, Forbes Magazine)
Last modified onSaturday, 06 May 2017 10:07