Sierra Nevada Completes Dream Chaser Propulsion, Reaction Control Milestone

Dream Chaser Main Propulsion System Test. (Credit: Sierra Nevada Corporation)
Dream Chaser Main Propulsion System Test. (Credit: Sierra Nevada Corporation)

Sparks, Nev., July 8, 2014 (SNC PR) – Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) announces it has completed a major Main Propulsion System (MPS) and Reaction Control System (RCS) risk reduction milestone for the Dream Chaser® Space System, maturing the design of each system close to Critical Design Review (CDR). The milestone positions SNC one step closer to restoring U.S. crew transportation to low-Earth orbit (LEO).

SNC completed the work for milestone 9a under its Commercial Crew Integrated Capability (CCiCap) agreement with NASA. In total, SNC has received over 80 percent of the total award value of the CCiCap agreement having successfully completed 10 of 13 milestones.

The Main Propulsion System is based on SNC’s patented rocket motor technology. To date, SNC has performed hundreds of rocket motor test firings at its Poway, California, facility advancing the motor technology with each test. The Dream Chaser MPS will not only power the spacecraft in orbit, it also offers a unique abort capability while on the launch pad and throughout the flight trajectory, unlike human space transportation capsules. The MPS technology used on the Dream Chaser results in a safe runway landing during an abort scenario, further reducing risk to the crew, spacecraft and payload.

The RCS, which is being designed by Orbital Technologies Corporation (ORBITEC), will provide precise on-orbit control of the Dream Chaser spacecraft. The RCS will provide maneuvering capability to allow for the accurate docking of the Dream Chaser to destinations in low-Earth orbit. Dream Chaser is a multi-mission capable spacecraft that has the ability to operate as an independent science platform or as a logistics vehicle to retrieve, repair, replace, assemble or deploy items in space.

“Safety is paramount in the design of the Dream Chaser Space System,” said Mark N. Sirangelo, corporate vice president of SNC’s Space Systems. “It is driven by reliability, rigorous quality assurance, consistent performance and extensive testing and analysis. In passing this milestone we are able to validate our safety and performance, while decreasing the risk for each of these systems. Completing this milestone moves the Dream Chaser closer to the Critical Design Review of our complete system.”

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

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

Sierra Nevada Commercial Crew Milestones Status
Award Period: August 2012 – August 2014
Total Milestones: 13
Milestones Completed: 10
Milestones Pending: 3
Total Possible Award: $227.5 Million
Total Awarded to Date: $192.5 Million

Total Award Remaining: $35 Million

No.DescriptionOriginal DateStatusAmount
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
4A.Engineering Test Article Flight Testing. At least one free flight of the Engineering Test Article to characterize the aerodynamics and controllability of the Dream Chaser Orbital Vehicle outer mold line configuration during the subsonic approach and landing phase.April 2013Complete$7 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
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 2014Complete
$20 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 2014Complete
$8
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
$5 Million
TOTAL TO DATE
(OUT OF $227.5 Million):
$192.5
Million
4B.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 2013March 2015
$8 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 3Q 2014
$17 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 3Q 2014
$10 Million
TOTAL:$227.5 Million