Sierra Nevada, Lockheed Martin Expand Dream Chaser Manufacturing

Dream Chaser shuttle. (Credit: NASA)
Dream Chaser shuttle. (Credit: NASA)

Sparks, Nev., March 25, 2014 (SNC PR) – In a press conference held today at the Michoud Assembly Facility (MAF) in Michoud, La., Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) and Dream Chaser® strategic partner Lockheed Martin announced the expansion of SNC Dream Chaser spacecraft orbital vehicle manufacturing operations.

As a valued member of SNC’s Dream Chaser Dream Team, Lockheed Martin is under contract to manufacture the next Dream Chaser composite structure which will be for the first orbital vehicle scheduled to launch on November 1, 2016. The MAF, which is owned and operated by NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, has been operational since 1961 and has played a significant role on our nation’s space programs ranging from Apollo to the space shuttle. Today, leveraging the experience, technical expertise and current infrastructure at Michoud, next generation vehicles such as SNC’s Dream Chaser and Lockheed Martin’s Orion are being fabricated within the same walls as   legendary programs.

“Michoud and the state of Louisiana, have a vital role in our nation’s space program,” said Mark N. Sirangelo, corporate vice president and head of SNC’s Space Systems. “We look to continue this valuable role through our partnership with Lockheed Martin for the build of our next Dream Chaser composite structure at the Michoud Assembly Facility.  We will be utilizing MAF’s existing facilities, partnerships and the workforce of Louisiana to bring America’s future transportation vehicles for low-Earth orbit  to reality while continuing to expand the Dream Chaser program footprint, which now provides employment in over 30 states.”

SNC chose Lockheed Martin to manufacture the Dream Chaser orbital composite structure based on their rich human spaceflight manufacturing heritage, including building the External Tank for the space shuttle program, and their  work for  the Orion program Fabricating key elements of Dream Chaser structures at MAF leverages Orion manufacturing efforts currently underway, while also taking advantage of existing facilities, relationships and assets, such as the National Center for Advanced Manufacturing (NCAM).

“Lockheed Martin’s history at MAF brings a wealth of experience to the Dream Chaser program,” said Jim Crocker, vice president of Lockheed Martin’s Space Systems Company Civil Space Line of Business. “Not only are we leveraging manufacturing processes and technology, we are also leveraging the Human Rating Certification methodology developed by the Orion program, which was then tailored to Dream Chaser.”

Currently, the Dream Chaser spacecraft orbital vehicle is in the early stage of the fabrication process at MAF. Fabrication of composite structures started in January 2014 with cabin ring frame production at MAF. Complex part fabrication will begin upon receipt of tooling in April 2014. As each composite structure is completed, it will then be shipped to Lockheed Martin’s facility in Fort Worth, Texas, for assembly and final inspection before being released to SNC.