Sierra Nevada Completes Dream Chaser Certification Plan Review

Dream Chaser (Credit: Sierra Nevada Corporation)
Dream Chaser (Credit: Sierra Nevada Corporation)

Sparks, Nev., Jan. 16, 2014 –Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) today announced the company recently completed its Certification Plan Review for the entire Dream Chaser® Space System (DCSS). This major accomplishment represents Milestone 7 under its Commercial Crew Integrated Capability (CCiCap) agreement, the third phase of development under NASA’s Commercial Crew Program (CCP) to develop privately owned and operated crew vehicles to access low-Earth orbit. In passing Milestone 7, the DCSS has successfully completed one of the most critical milestones on the road to Dream Chaser full design certification and outlined how SNC would operate its first crewed flight to the International Space Station (ISS).

In this milestone, SNC and NASA reviewed the overall certification strategy, and verification and validation activities for the DCSS. The DCSS systems certification review included the Dream Chaser spacecraft, the Atlas V launch vehicle, and ground and mission systems, all of which must work together before the spacecraft can transport humans.  SNC delivered nearly 6,000 pages of technical support documentation and successfully met the exit criteria in its agreement for Milestone 7. The passage of this milestone confirmed SNC’s integrated certification strategy, process and plans are now complete, further documenting that the DCSS design is maturing toward compliance with the functional, performance and interface requirements to operate in its intended environments.

“The completion and validation by NASA of Milestone 7 is a major step in leading us to our first crewed, orbital flight of the Dream Chaser Space System,” said Mark Sirangelo, corporate vice president and head of SNC’s Space Systems. “We have now completed 70 percent of our CCiCap contract.  With each day, each test, and each successful milestone passing, we are moving one step closer to restoring America’s place as a leader in human spaceflight building the nation’s next generation crew transportation system.”

SNC is working with NASA’s Commercial Crew Program to develop an innovative, modern, flexible and highly-capable crew transportation system for the 21st Century. The DCSS provides the only reusable, lifting-body human-rated spacecraft with a commercial runway landing capability, anywhere in the world. The DCSS is on the forefront of the commercial human spaceflight industry, offering safe, reliable and cost-effective crew and critical cargo transportation to low-Earth orbit.

Sierra Nevada Commercial Crew Milestones Status
Award Period: August 2012 – August 2014
Total Milestones: 12
Milestones Completed: 6
Milestones Awaiting NASA Acceptance: 1
Total: $227.5 Million

1.Program Implementation Plan Review. This is an initial meeting to describe the plan for implementing the Commercial Crew Integrated Capability Program, to include management planning for achieving CDR; Design, Development, Testing, and Evaluation activities; risk management to include mitigation plans, and certification activities planned during the CCiCap Base Period.August 2012Complete$30 Million
2.Integrated System Baseline Review. The Integrated System Baseline Review (ISBR) demonstrates the maturity of the baseline CTS integrated vehicle and operations design of the Dream Chaser Space System (DCSS) consisting of Dream Chaser spacecraft, Atlas launch vehicle, Mission Systems, and Ground Systems supports proceeding with the detailed CTS design.October 2012Complete$45 Million
3.Integrated System Safety Analysis Review #1. The purpose of the Integrated System Safety Analysis Review #1 is to demonstrate that the systems safety analysis of the Dream Chaser Space System (DCSS) has been advanced to a preliminary maturity level, incorporating changes resulting from the Preliminary Design Review, The DCSS consists of the Dream Chaser spacecraft, launch vehicle, ground systems and mission systems.January 2013Complete$20 Million
5.SNC Investment Financing #1. This funding represents SNC’s commitment for significant investing financing. SNC to provide program co-investment of [REDACTED].July 2013Complete$12.5 Million
6.Integrated System Safety Analysis Review #2. The purpose of the Integrated System Safety Analysis Review #2 is to demonstrate that the systems safety analysis of the Dream Chaser Space System.October 2013Complete$20 Million
7.Certification Plan Review. The Certification Plan Review defines the top level strategy for certification of the DCSS that meets the objectives for the ISS Design Reference Mission described in CCT-DRM-1110 Rev Basic. SNC shall conduct a review of the verification and validation activities planned for the Dream Chaser Space System (Dream Chaser spacecraft, Atlas launch vehicle, Ground and Mission Systems).November 2013Complete$25 Million
(OUT OF $227.5 Million):
4.Engineering Test Article Flight Testing. The purpose of these additional free flight test(s) is to reduce risk due to aerodynamic uncertainties in the subsonic approach and landing phase of flight and to mature the Dream Chaser aerodynamic database. A minimum of one and up to five additional Engineering Test Article free flight test(s) will be completed to characterize the aerodynamics and controllability of the Dream Chaser Orbital Vehicle outer mold line configuration during the subsonic approach and landing phase.April 2013Pending$15 Million
10A.Critical Design Review Incremental Design Review #1. This is the first of a series of reviews that support the Dream Chaser Space System ICDR.October 2013Complete NASA Acceptance Pending
$5 Million
8.Wind Tunnel Testing. The purpose of this testing is to reduce risk on both the DC vehicle and the DC/Atlas stack by maturing the DC and DCiAtias aerodynamic databases, providing improved fidelity in Reynolds number effects and control surface interactions, and will help determine pre-CDR required updates to the OML or control surface geometry if required.February 2014Pending$20 Million
9.Risk Reduction and TRL Advancement Testing. The purpose of these tests is to significantly mature all Dream Chaser systems to or beyond a CDR level.May 2014Pending$17 Million
9A.Main Propulsion and RCS Risk Reduction and TRL Advancement Testing. The purpose of these tests is to significantly mature the Dream Chaser Main Propulsion System and Reaction Control System to or beyond a CDR level. Risk reduction and Technology Readiness Level improvement tests will be completed for these systems.May 2014Pending$8 Million
15A.Reaction Control System Testing — Incremental Test No. 1. The purpose of the test on this pre-qualification unit is to support eventual qualification/certification by testing the thruster in flight-like environments.July 2014Pending$10 Million
TOTAL:$227.5 Million

  • Terry Rawnsley

    Does anybody know why Engineering Article Flight Testing is still pending? One free-flight drop test with a landing mishap shouldn’t count for much.

  • mzungu

    In PDR speak, “minor” structural repairs, “minor” gear redesign, “minor” process adjustments… 😛

  • Douglas Messier

    The flight test was a milestone under the CCDev 2 agreement, which was the earlier agreement before the CCiCAP one they’re now operating under. Note the mention of “additional” flights mentioned twice in the milestone description:

    “The purpose of these additional free flight test(s) is to reduce risk…”

    I confirmed the status of all the milestones under CCiCAP a couple of weeks ago with NASA. This list above reflects those updates. I expect they will announce the acceptance of Milestone 10A fairly soon.