NASA Inks Deal with Sierra Nevada for Dream Chaser Operations

NASA PR — CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida is entering into an agreement with Sierra Nevada Space Systems (SNSS) of Sparks, Nev., to offer technical capabilities from the center’s uniquely skilled work force.

Kennedy will help Sierra Nevada with the ground operations support of its lifting body reusable spacecraft called “Dream Chaser,” which resembles a smaller version of the space shuttle orbiter. The spacecraft would carry as many as seven astronauts to the space station.

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Sierra Nevada Adds Former NASA Chief Astronaut to Dream Chaser Team

The newest member of the Dream Chaser management team is astronaut Steven Lindsey who will be joining the SNC Dream Chaser team in July as Director of Flight Operations. Steve is the former Chief of NASA’s Astronaut Office, which he ran for four years and is a veteran of four Space Shuttle missions, most recently commanding Space Shuttle mission STS-133.

Former astronaut Jim Voss, a veteran astronaut who flew on five Space Shuttle missions and the Russian Soyuz, and served as a crew member on the International Space Station during Expedition 2. Jim is the SNC Vice President of Space Exploration Systems and is the program executive for the Dream Chaser Program.

SNC has also hired other NASA vets. Read the full press release below. (more…)

Garver Views Commercial Space Hardware at Bigelow, Sierra Nevada Facilities

NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver is given a tour of the Bigelow Aerospace facilities by the company's President Robert Bigelow on Friday, Feb. 4, 2011, in Las Vegas. (NASA/Bill Ingalls)

NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver visited Bigelow Aerospace and Sierra Nevada Corporation this week to see commercial human spaceflight hardware that to two companies are developing. The following report is based on NASA press releases.

Inflatable Space Stations

In Las Vegas, Garver toured the facilities of Bigelow Aerospace, a company that has been developing expandable space habitats. NASA is evaluating Bigelow’s concept for an expandable module for the International Space Station. If approved, the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module, or BEAM, could be launched to the station using a commercial cargo flight and robotically attached to the orbiting laboratory.

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NASA CCDev Update: Three Down, Two to Go

The government has published status updates on NASA’s five Commercial Crew Development (CCDev) 1 grants which were awarded last February. Sierra Nevada Corporation, Blue Origin and Paragon Space Development Corporation have completed their work as planned by the end of the calendar year. The Bigelow/Boeing team and United Launch Alliance have been given extensions through March and April, respectively. NASA awarded a total of $50 million for the first round; it will award about $200 million in additional grants in March.

Individual status reports follow after the break.
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Sierra Nevada’s Dream Chaser Met Milestones for 2010

SNC Dream Chaser Pressure Shell. (Credit: Sierra Nevada Corporation)

A Private Space Shuttle Replacement
Technology Review

The company reached all its development milestones for the Dream Chaser last year and is now finishing a battery of tests on the craft’s carbon-composite frame. The shell of the spacecraft must be able to endure heavy loads and intense vibrations. So the Dream Chaser frame has been mounted on an earthquake simulator in a lab at the University of Colorado in Boulder. So far, the design has performed as expected, says Mark Sirangelo, head of Sierra Nevada’s Space Systems division. At facilities in San Diego, the company has been testing the craft’s hybrid rocket motors. In the coming months, the company will put the two together to complete a full prototype, carry it into the air, and drop it to see how it flies….
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