Sierra Nevada Statement on Commercial Crew Awards

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

Sierra Nevada Corporation has issued the following statement concerning the Commercial Crew Program awards to Boeing and SpaceX:

“Sierra Nevada Corporation recognizes that NASA has made a selection of an alternative provider(s) in the Commercial Crew Transportation Capability Contract (CCtCap) competition. SNC is planning to have a debrief session with NASA soon to obtain the source selection statement and decision rationale. When this process is complete and after a thorough evaluation, SNC will elaborate further on its future options regarding the NASA Commercial Crew Transportation Capability (CCtCap) contract decision and the Dream Chaser program. Due to this pending activity SNC will have no further public statement at this time. We will be providing further information at a later date.

“While SNC is disappointed NASA did not select its Dream Chaser® Space System for the CCtCap contract, SNC commends NASA for initiating the effort and is privileged to have been part of returning human space flight to the United States through our awarded contracts in all other phases of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program over the past four years.”

  • Terry Rawnsley

    I’m sorry to read this. It looks like they were banking everything on landing a government contract. If private space develops like many hope it will, there will be many other contracts to fill in the near future. It would be a shame to see them pack it in so early.

  • Hug Doug

    well, the Sierra Nevada Corporation isn’t going to go away. they have partnerships in the ESA, JAXA, as well as many other US companies. for example, Sierra Nevada is building the Common Berthing Mechanism for Bigelow’s BEAM module that is going to be tested on the ISS. Sierra Nevada also has a number of unrelated military contracts.

    as for Dream Chaser, it’s possible that the ESA and / or JAXA will pony up some funding for it, otherwise they may be able to continue on their own, as well. I know they were gearing up for another series of drop / glide tests. if they continue with those, then i’d say it’s reasonable to conclude that the “Dream” is still alive. of course, we will know more when Sierra Nevada gives its official statement.

  • disqusser10157

    Well, that was a fairly civilized response. I hope this is not the last we’ll see of the DreamChaser.

  • Terry Rawnsley

    The announcement sounded kind of somber. I was under the impression that SNC had stated their intention to build Dream Chaser regardless of how NASA chose.

  • Hug Doug

    if they have a customer, and I have said the ESA or JAXA, since Sierra Nevada already has partnerships with those space agencies,

    and if either is willing to commit to supporting them, then i think they will continue work on the Dream chaser. both the ESA’s Ariane 5 and JAXA’s H-IIA have enough lift to put DC into LEO. both would love to have independent access to space.

    DC does have a lot of development and testing work left to do. they recently decided to switch their engines from hybrid to all liquid, so it likely won’t be ready to fly by the end of 2017, but 2018 would probably be possible. all contingent on them getting full support and at least some funding from another space agency.

  • Vladislaw

    SNC is a privately held company so I do not know how much profits/retained earnings they have and how much they can contribute themselvs. Sure would like to know how much skin they are willing to put into this.

  • Hug Doug

    interesting question. did some google searching, the most recent information i can find is that they were in the Forbes’ 5000 Fastest Growing Companies list, in 2010 and 2011, with revenues of $993.7 million and $1.2 billion, and growth of 189% and 148%, respectively. now, that’s revenue, not profit, and they didn’t make that list in prior or subsequent years. a fair chunk of that revenue and growth has to be due to the CCDev1 and CCDev2 awards, though.

  • SpaceTech

    Doug, Not sure how all that works I mean technically Dreamchaser is government property and could possibly be requested to be returned.
    Plus, as far as I can tell there is an ITAR issue regarding sharing any Dreamchaser technologies with foreign countries.

  • SpaceTech

    Hmmm, sounds to me like SNC may be preparing a protest if they can justify it after reviewing the selection criteria.

  • SpaceTech

    New ITAR rules as of May 2014 cover domestic spaceflight vehicles from the USA.

  • Terry Rawnsley

    Doug I remember the ESA and JAXA partnerships. I hope somebody wants their own vehicle enough to provide some funding. I wouldn’t count on ESA though.

  • Geoff T

    Is there much possibility of either ESA or JAXA going further with it? I was under the assumption that most national space agencies had a “not invented here” mentality?

  • Hug Doug

    how is Dream Chaser government property?

    yes, there will be ITAR issues, but Sierra Nevada is well aware of those and has already been working with the ESA and JAXA on some portions of the Dream Chaser.

  • Hug Doug

    the Forbes article mentions there was some interest in launching from and landing Dream Chaser back in Japan.

    i don’t know how strong the interest is, but that seems substantial.

    i’m certain we will know more when Sierra Nevada makes their formal announcement about how they plan to go forward from here.

  • SpaceTech

    Doug, your right I’m wrong I mixed up info thinking it was initially a leftover NASA X-37A. Nevermind.

  • Tonya

    “Due to this pending activity SNC will have no further public statement at this time.” – Thus speaketh the lawyer.

  • Tonya

    It’s not particularly true to say there is ESA support for Dream Chaser. It’s really just Germany (DLR) which has been supporting this, both directly and through their ESA membership. The other ESA members are somewhat passive on the matter.

    However, Germany is not exactly an insignificant player, so that’s no bad thing.

  • Hug Doug

    not a problem! these spaceplanes, they all look alike xD

  • disqusser10157

    To be fair, NASA stated that having a “business case” for your spacecraft even if you were not selected was one of the “plus” criteria to BE selected. SNC may have exaggerated the market for the DreamChaser if it were not selected by NASA. In any case, they’re looking at a loss of a few billion dollars while Boeing was awarded $4.2 billion for a paper spacecraft. SNC took risks while Boeing didn’t, and now they’re being punished. I’d be somber, too. (Actually, I’d be pissed off, but I’d tone it down to “somber” on advice of counsel.)

  • mzungu

    Europe have no interest in seeing Dream Chaser fly, ESA are allotted only one Europeans on-board ISS, they are not interested in funding a whole spaceship for 1 person. The are only interested in paying enough to take a peek or to steal some of the technology of designing an RV, which they lack.

  • Michael J. Listner

    More like corporate communications.

  • Tonya

    It has nothing to do with the ISS, access to that is already assured through barter agreements. The interest is almost purely from Germany who appear to be looking to the post ISS era.

    You would have to elaborate as to what technology they’re looking to steal, and why they would want to do such a thing. Europe has done the technology development for reentry vehicles dozens of times, including for a probe sitting on the surface of titan. It just doesn’t have the political will to commit money to manufacturing and operating its own manned vehicle.

  • DocScience

    “Old age and treachery will overcome youth and skill”

    Incompetent managers at NASA NEED Boeing to receive them via the revolving door. Surely SpaceX and Sierra Nevada would not hire them except perhaps for janitorial or cafeteria service.

  • mzungu

    European RV experiences are somewhat limited, when you compare that to the US. Aside from Hyugen, I think they do have 1 or 2 other RV testbeds that were flown, other than that it’s all just paper studies.

    The US on the other hand have test hundreds reentry on Mars, Jupiter, and Earth….all of them present much more server cases of reentry than Titan. That also includes all the RV that the USAF flown with their ICBMs.

    So there is quite of bit of experiences, data, and technology they would want to get a glimps at… All the way from atmospheric data used in CFD analysis, the formulation of heat-shield materials, design methodologies… ect.

  • Tonya

    Well of course it’s about co-operation, sharing know how and expense. I would be astonished if there is any new technology in DC that Europe doesn’t already have, it’s not a cutting edge vehicle. The Hermes program ran for around a decade and pushed huge amounts of money into all the fundamental R&D, material science, heat shields the lot. They flew the ARD demonstrator back in the 90’s at re-entry speed, and will perform a similar flight with IXV in a month or two.

    I think the people involved in the Huygens project would contest the suggestion that it was easier than landing on earth. Even in defence, France builds its own ICBM’s, the M51 with its own RV (Britain has access to Trident, only the warhead is its own as required by nuclear non-proliferation).

    What I’m slightly fed up with is this attitude that anyone that wants to work with an American company is only motivated by a desire to “steal some of the technology”. It’s not, and insulting allies and partners with such accusations is not a way to win friends.

    Americans sometimes make for terrible salesman.

  • mzungu

    So what it that you think, that the German want out of working with Sierra Nevada?

    They didn’t come out and say wanting to buy one…

  • Tonya

    No idea, I’m not a German and it’s been a decade since I spent any time there for work reasons. Europe is not an homogeneous state, it’s full of nation states that have their own priorities and interests.

    It’s known that they wanted to study it’s use as an unmanned vehicle. That would presumably end the dependency on the Russian Foton for life science missions, amongst other roles they may be considering.

    The important thing is that their interest and that of the Japanese is probably the only lifeline that SNC have. I’m sure the engineers there are proud of their work, and I doubt they believe it deserves to die.

    My advice to you, is that you should take the time to study Europe a little more before taking a position. If you want to use a glib phrase such “bailing out the rest of Europe”, take the time to understand what they actually did.

    As of today, the Germany is by far the wealthiest country in Europe, and unlike almost everyone else, it’s Government budget is in the black.

  • mzungu

    All I was saying is that neither the Germans or the Japanese will be willing to foot the bill to make this thing fly, because neither of them have an use for the vehicle.

    The most they can do or want out of the colaboration is probably just paper studies, and technical exchanges of some data the need for their own RV.

    I am not sure there is going to be a need of two capsule in the next 10 years. They will first need to survive the next administration, then to survive the winding down of ISS, if the Russians don’t pull the cord earlier.

    To put your mind at ease, I read my share of The Guardians almost daily, …here is somethng for you to read, if you are disputing my statement about Germany bailing out EU…

  • Tonya

    That isn’t all you said. This was your accusation – “The are only interested in paying enough to take a peek or to steal some of the technology of designing an RV, which they lack.”

    Don’t disparage potential partners as thieves if that isn’t what you mean.

  • mzungu

    OK, Let’s call it “industrial espionage” then. You are right our partners are our friends.

    Our Russian ISS partner had always been our friends. It slip my mind that we were partners during WW2, and we had been friends forever-n-ever since, and Stalin,Khrushchev and Putin have nothing but warm thoughts for us here. …and of course, who can forget the Germans and the Japanese…. We’ve always been allies with Germany and Japan. 😀

  • Tonya

    You’ve made yourself clear, you’re unequivocal that the insult was intentional.

    As you may know I have dual nationality, and spend time on both sides of the Atlantic. I’m lucky that in my work I rarely encounter such attitudes. There has always been an element of Xenophobia and isolationism in American politics and in some parts of its media. It disappoints me when I encounter it.

    Interesting that you raise WWII Germany. Maybe you’ve forgotten where America acquired most of its rocketry science from.

    I still have no idea why you have such distrust over Germany’s motivations. It quite bizarre, and such attitudes are ultimately extremely harmful to American industry and its ability to operate in a global market.

  • mzungu

    I remember we did acquire a bunch on Nazi weapon designers, not America’s brightest moment, I am afraid. Funny how each and everyone of them claim that they jointed the party so they can keep their jobs to feed their family, Aryan family that is. 😀 Only if the “progressive” Europe have such an open immigration pratices.

    I distrust the Germans IN THIS CASE, is because they have no intention of building or to fully fund a Dream Chaser, because they don’t need a space-van that got nowhere to go, a space van that are not design/tune to go on an Ariane. So it is easy to draw the conclusion that they are there to buy/study/steal the technology. Technical exchange for money if you want to call it that.

    Have you know, I been to Germany, and in 2 weeks there i was pull over by police 3 times to check my ID/passport, because I was Asian. I traveled to and live in countries in Africa, Asia, S. America, Middle East for months at a time ….and not a single one was like that. Not even my illegal immigrant friends get treated like that here in the US.

    So, tell me …care to examine element of Xenophobia and isolationism there in Germany and Europe? Care to examine your own European superiority complex?

  • Tonya

    This hostility is all based on some unfortunate experience of having your passport checked? Obviously a sound basis to judge an entire continent. Of course no visitor to America has ever had a bad experience with either the Police or immigration service.

    But even odder, having experienced such hostility, why do you now perpetuate it yourself? Is that a logical position?

    You have absolutely no idea what Germany intends to do or not, but you’ve leapt to a conclusion. But obviously, it’s all about industrial espionage and stealing technology, because you personally has a bad experience with their Police, and that is a sound basis to judge the motivations of an entire country.

    Good grief.

    I’ve found plenty of unpleasant political views in both the US and most European countries. Some of the new far right parties in Europe are deeply unpleasant and contain elements of outright racism and bigotry. I find them all ridiculous, small minded people still stuck in a 17th century World.

    The most likely outcome to this whole thing is that without having won US funding, Germany will also drop out.

    There’s a very slim chance that Germany along with some others might have just enough interest to fund something. Most likely an unmanned vehicle that can do material and life science work, which is something that ESA has looked into building before and would be much cheaper to build and fly than the full DC vehicle.

    Clearly your view is that it’s better to put a few hundred Americans out of work than risk working with some dodgy foreign companies. You never know how many of them might be traumatized by having their passport checked.

  • mzungu

    Geez, would you tone down on all these personal attacks, and just chill. For god sake, I had fun in Germany aside from that experience. You don’t have to take everything on the internet so f#$%ing seriously.

    There u r accusing me of leaping to conclusion about what Germany will do, then couple paragraph later you go agreeing with me that Germany will drop out.

    Sure, blame me for those guys losing their jobs as well. It’s not because their bosses had a wrong bussiness idea, and it’s not because those guys blindly followed them, it’s me…. complaining about some racial profiling, because some lady says that xenophobia is an American thing, and Europeans are so much superior…. What ever….Bye.

  • Tonya

    I detest all forms of racism, xenophobia and bigotry. One of the greatest ills of the Internet is that it tolerates a casual acceptance of such attitudes, which fuels such attitudes in the real world. Worse, such attitudes are often repeated by people without even realising what they are saying.

    You’ve continued to misunderstand my point and still do. I haven’t at any point said Europeans are superior, or that xenophobia is an exclusively American condition. I criticise the very idea of any sense of superiority as a national trait, or inferiority, or the idea that someone might be untrustworthy just because of their nationality.

    You’re accusation, to remind you again is that Germany is only interested in stealing technology, and that their motivation is industrial espionage. That is a completely unjustified and offensive assertion, for a country which is a close ally and one we’ve traded with and cooperated with for decades.

    Furthermore, I have no doubt that you don’t believe that. Only a fool would genuinely believes that Germany, one of the most powerful industrial nations on the planet achieved that success through industrial espionage, that it routinely steals from the countries it trades with, and that this has all somewhere gone unnoticed for the last seventy or so years.

    That’s patently absurd, and anyone that makes such an accusation shouldn’t be surprised if they are challenged for such remarks.

  • mzungu

    Maybe it’s not racism, but the reality of business and politics… Germany spies on it’s allies and friends as well.

    This is publish by Germans newspaper, detailing Germany spying on it’s own NATO allies….

  • Tonya

    I haven’t at any point called you a racist.

    Maybe you just have problems reading, you’ve also misunderstood that article from The Spiegel which has been a high profile story in many European countries. The point of that article is that German government doesn’t have a policy of spying on America. Read it again, carefully.

    The opposite however unfortunately has not true of the US which through the NSA has operated a systematic program of spying on its allies, and that is a matter of ongoing friction between Germany and America.

  • mzungu

    No, you didn’t, but you did say the things I said was racist…perhaps you like to say the same to The Spiegel ‘s writer.

    Lack of a apparent policy or not, they did record those phone calls, and that of their NATO allies , Turkey. So, They do spy on the US and their allies.

  • Tonya

    Still no. I described your concerns as xenophobic and isolationist, which I believe is a quite appropriate way to describe an unjustified and irrational objection to working with a foreign company.

    Nothing I’m hearing is dissuading me from that, you seem to be locked into a country vs country mindset. So just as an analogy, suppose one day you find out that your neighbour has been stealing your post, steaming it open, reading it and then delivering it to you. When you confront them about this, they remind of you that one electricity bill of theirs you received once by mistake and opened before returning it to them.

    Perhaps you should travel a little more, or even work in another country for a few months. I’ve been lucky enough to do that most of my life, moving between America and Europe. I’m still yet to encounter any industrial espionage or stealing, just an awful lot of trade and cooperation going on, with companies that have worked out that globalization is actually a pretty good thing.

  • mzungu

    I probably lived in more countries than you know, years in China, months in Mid East…. months in Africa, months in S. America…and weeks in Europe for work. If traveling is your sole measuring stick of a person…. ?

    Perhaps you would show me some evidence that the German had not and would no spied on us?

    Point out these human/German/American fallacies don’t make a person a xenophobic and isolationist.

    There are reasons these cooperation agreements are hundreds of pages long, and the ITAR being so complicated. and there is a reason why Germany has a spy agency, and has their own version of NSA… Corporate espionage is real. Ignoring it is just plain naive.

  • Tonya


  • Ruri Hoshino

    Hopefully as the decision to give Boeing so much money for what is probably the least innovative vehicle to compete in commercial crew is just ludicrous.

  • Ruri Hoshino

    Boeing’s vehicle doesn’t exactly have a business case outside of winning the contract either.

  • disqusser10157

    Oh, Boeing had no business case at all. They do, however, have a lot of Congressmen and Senators in their pockets. It life were fair, Boeing would have been the odd man out. Frankly, I’m sufficiently cynical that I’m surprised SpaceX was selected, even though they clearly had the best bid, across the board.