Has NASA Decided to Continue Funding Sierra Nevada’s Dream Chaser?

Dream Chaser cockpit simulator. (Credit: Sierra Nevada Corporation)

By Douglas Messier
Parabolic Arc Managing Editor

Sierra Nevada Corporation has ramped up the hiring process for its Dream Chaser program in advance of a scheduled NASA announcement of the next round of commercial crew funding. Dream Chaser is in the running for additional development funds.

The company held jobs fairs in Houston and Cocoa Beach, Florida last week specifically to recruit employees for Dream Chaser. The interesting aspects here are both the specificity of the recruitment (for Dream Chaser) and the timing. The press release announcing the recruitment sessions was distributed via PRNewswire on July 6, only four days before the event in Houston and six days before the one in Florida.

I also received a notice this evening via LinkedIn (my emphasis added):

SNC’s Louisville, Colorado office is currently accepting applications for exciting career opportunities! We are looking for Engineers, Technicians, and other qualified specialists to work on the Dream Chaser Space System. Visit our careers page to submit an online application and SNC will follow up with qualified candidates. If you are interested in becoming a part of our dynamic team visit http://careers.sncorp.com/career/index.asp to learn more about specific opportunities and apply online. Visit www.SNCspace.com for more information about SNC Space Systems.

NASA is expected to announce the new round of funding soon, with two programs receiving full awards and a third receiving half an award. NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said several week ago that an announcement could be made in mid-July, which means it could come this week. However, NASA has not yet publicly set a date for the announcement.

Agreements between NASA and funded commercial crew companies are finalized in advance of the public announcement, which indicates the company might already have been notified and is seeking to fill positions that it will need to create.

On the other hand, this could be precautionary to ensure that if the company does receive an award, the human resources department is set to begin recruitment right away.

  • That’s an interesting possibility. As you say, it’s not uncommon in NASA project selections that the companies are informed long before the official public announcement as to whether they have been chosen or not. I had assumed SNC was just getting their hiring process ready in case they were selected but, as you indicate, they do seem to be going at it with unusual vigor.

    OTOH, they could be trying to counter-act the Liberty campaign. ATK is clearly trying to convince everyone that selecting Liberty (“the safest vehicle built with Alabama and Utah workers”) is all but a foregone conclusion. It clearly a way to put pressure on NASA to come to that conclusion. It’s advertising as psychological warfare.

  • Ryan Kobrick

    Boeing has been posting positions for the CST-100 for a few months and they have already hired a few people. Most of the postings do stipulate that they are dependent on CCiCap:

    “This position is contingent upon the Commercial Crew Integrated Capability (CCiCap) Space Act Agreement award with funding level that supports the work scope associated with this position”

    Example: https://jobs.boeing.com/JobSeeker/JobView?reqcode=12-1012576

    Beside SNC and Boeing, I think others are waiting until the official news is released before posting jobs. It is also possible that they already have their staff internally and no new jobs may be released for the winners.

  • BIG BUG

    only Boeing will survive the competition with SpaceX but the CST-100 and Atlas V duo hides a BIG BUG

  • (sigh) If you presume to know it, then name it. Put up or shut up.

    But of course, in the end, you’ll do neither…

  • Marcus Zottl

    10 bucks that “big bug” is our beloved gaetano marano…

  • Frank Glover

    Oh, I’m quite certain. It’s one of several of his standard, unsupported assertions.

  • Gaetano is as persistent as he is repetitive…

  • Rob Reed

    Is SN doing this in order to become the 1/2 awardee? If I recall correctly the agreement between congress and NASA permits 2 full investments and 1 half investment. Most believe SpaceX and Boeing are the 2 full grants. Should the total award be 500mm then SN will get only 100mm to bring the Dreamchaser to service. It seems improbable.

  • Linsey Young

    My prediction is that Spacex and Sierra Nevada will get the full awards and that Boeing will get the half. Boeing are big enough that they could carry the CST-100 to completion with their own dollar, while I doubt Sierra Nevada could do the same. If it falls out this way NASA get to keep three viable proposals on the table a while longer.

  • warshawski

    @Linsey Young another option is to make SpaceX the 1/2 as they are already in the prototype stage and are testing with each COTS launch so have much less development to do. It would slow them down to be more in line with dates for CST-100 and Orion so would make vested interests happier.
    Not a happy thought but politics is like that.
    The sad part is that with even 1/3 funding of Orion Dragon could be launching people by 2014 as what is required now is integration and testing of the LAS and that serious takes money. SpaceX does not have the cash to spend on an accelerated program so is constrained by the funding rate.

  • Its great the HL-20 is being developed. Its been one of my favorite design and at long last its coming into fruition.