Tag: Sierra Nevada CorporationPage 2 of 25

Sierra Nevada Appeal Decision, SpaceX Barge Landing Attempt Loom

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Dream Chaser shuttle. (Credit: NASA)

Dream Chaser shuttle. (Credit: NASA)

With the new year comes some major developments in commercial space:

Monday, Jan. 5:  The Government Accountability Office is scheduled to rule on an appeal by Sierra Nevada Corporation’s protest of NASA’s decision to award Commercial Crew Program contracts to Boeing and SpaceX.

The decision left SNC and its Dream Chaser shuttle out in the cold for delivering crew to the International Space Station. SNC claims its bid was significantly lower than the one submitted by Boeing, and that NASA’s decision-making process was marred by irregularities.

Landing legs deployed just before soft water landing in the Atlantic Ocean. (Credit: SpaceX)

Landing legs deployed just before soft water landing in the Atlantic Ocean. (Credit: SpaceX)

Tuesday, Jan. 6: SpaceX will attempt to land a Falcon 9 first stage on a barge. The rocket will be launching a Dragon freighter to the International Space Station. The launch is set for 6:20:29 a.m. EST. NASA Television coverage will begin at 5 a.m. EST.

Sierra Nevada Alleges Boeing Benefitted From Commercial Crew Criteria Changes

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Dream Chaser shuttle. (Credit: NASA)

Dream Chaser shuttle. (Credit: NASA)

Andy Pasztor of The Wall Street Journal has an update on Sierra Nevada Corporation’s appeal of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program award to Boeing. The Government Accountability Office is set to decide on the appeal by the first week in January.

In recent weeks, details have emerged that some of the arguments at the heart of the proceeding revolve around Sierra Nevada’s claims that a high-ranking agency official opted to rank Boeing’s proposal higher than a previous panel of agency procurement experts.

According to people familiar with the details, Sierra Nevada has alleged that Boeing won unfairly, because the choice was partly based on agency projections that the Chicago-based aerospace giant was more likely than its rival to complete the work on time. Sierra Nevada’s filings, however, contend that the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s formal bidding criteria put a premium on price combined with technical issues, without indicating that scheduling considerations would be major factors in ranking rival proposals, one of these people said.

Sierra Nevada’s bid was about $900 million lower than the one Boeing submitted, but NASA’s final decision memo noted that Sierra Nevada’s plans entailed “considerably more schedule risk.”

Sierra Nevada has challenged Boeing’s award on various grounds. One of the main assertions, according to one person familiar with the details, is that William Gerstenmaier, the agency’s top human exploration official and the one who made the final decision, overstepped his authority by unilaterally changing the scoring criteria.

Read the full story.

Commercial Crew Partners Completed 23 Milestones in 2014

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Launch_America_Commercial_Crew

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA’s Commercial Crew Program and the agency’s industry partners completed 23 agreement and contract milestones in 2014 and participated in thousands of hours of technical review sessions. The sessions focused on creating a new generation of safe, reliable and cost-effective crew space transportation systems to low-Earth orbit destinations.

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Sierra Nevada Completes Commercial Crew Milestone

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SNC and ORBITEC complete RCS testing in vacuum chamber to simulate orbit environment. (Credit: SNC)

SNC and ORBITEC complete RCS testing in vacuum chamber to simulate orbit environment. (Credit: SNC)

SPARKS, Nev., Dec. 2, 2014 (SNC PR) – Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) announces the successful completion of a major milestone relating to the Reaction Control System (RCS) propulsion risk reduction for the Dream Chaser®  Space System, known as Milestone 15a. The achievement further matures the design toward Critical Design Review (CDR) and positions SNC one step closer to concluding all milestones laid out in NASA’s Commercial Crew Integrated Capability (CCiCap) agreement. To date, SNC has received 96 percent of the total award value of the CCiCap agreement, having successfully completed 12 of 13 milestones.

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Sierra Nevada Shuts Down Poway, Lays Off More Than 100

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Dream Chaser hybrid motor test firing. (Credit: Sierra Nevada Corporation)

Dream Chaser hybrid motor test firing. (Credit: Sierra Nevada Corporation)

Sources report that Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) has shut down its rocket engine test facility in Poway, Calif., where the company has tested propulsion systems for the Dream Chaser space shuttle and Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo suborbital vehicle.

The company laid off more than 100 employees last week, including around 70 in Poway with the rest in Colorado, sources report.

Sierra Nevada lost out on two big contracts this year. In May, Virgin Galactic announced it was switching from SNC’s rubber hybrid to a nylon hybrid engine developed by Scaled Composites to power SpaceShipTwo. The rubber hybrid had been tested down in Poway.

In September, SNC lost out on the next round of NASA Commercial Crew Program contracts when the space agency selected Boeing and SpaceX to develop vehicles to fly to the International Space Station. SNC’s Dream Chaser shuttle was not selected.

SNC has appealed the decision. The Government Accountability Office has until early January to make a decision on the appeal.

Sierra Nevada Contemplates Landing Dream Chaser at Public-Use Airports

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Dream Chaser landing at Ellington Field. (Cedit: SNC)

Dream Chaser landing at Ellington Field. (Cedit: SNC)

SPARKS, Nev. (SNC PR) — Sierra Nevada Corporation’s (SNC) Space Systems and partner organization RS&H, Inc., presented findings regarding the challenges and opportunities of landing the Dream Chaser® reusable spacecraft at public-use airports during the Space Traffic Management Conference at the Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (ERAU) Daytona Beach, Florida, campus today.

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NASA Commercial Crew Partners Continue System Advancements

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Launch_America_Commercial_Crew
WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA’s industry partners continue to complete development milestones under agreements with the agency’s Commercial Crew Program. The work performed by Blue Origin, Boeing, Sierra Nevada Corporation and SpaceX during partnership and contract initiatives are leading a new generation of safe, reliable and cost-effective crew space transportation systems to low-Earth orbit destinations.

Blue Origin conducted an interim design review of the subsystems in development for its Space Vehicle spacecraft designed to carry people into low-Earth orbit. The September review was performed under an unfunded Commercial Crew Development Round 2 (CCDev2) agreement with NASA. In October, NASA and Blue Origin agreed to add three additional unfunded milestones to the agreement to continue the development work and partnership. Those milestones will include further testing of Blue Origin’s propellant tank, BE-3 engine and pusher escape system.

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Wall Street Journal Story Adds Details to Virgin Galactic’s Troubles With SpaceShipTwo

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Richard Branson speaks to the press at the Mojave Air and Space Port about the crash off SpaceShipTwo. (Credit: Douglas Messier)

Richard Branson speaks to the press at the Mojave Air and Space Port about the crash off SpaceShipTwo. (Credit: Douglas Messier)

The Wall Street Journal has a good piece on all the problems Scaled Composites and Virgin Galactic have had with SpaceShipTwo and WhiteKnightTwo over the years. It pretty confirms everything I’ve been writing for the last few years, adding some interesting details but getting a few of them wrong.

There were a number of interesting elements here:

The article claims that Sierra Nevada Corporation was brought in by Scaled Composites to develop SpaceShipTwo’s engine  in 2009. That’s not accurate.

Continue reading ‘Wall Street Journal Story Adds Details to Virgin Galactic’s Troubles With SpaceShipTwo’

SNC Unveils Dream Chaser Spacecraft Science Mission Variant

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Dream Chaser science mission mock-up (Credit: Sierra Nevada Corporation)

Dream Chaser science mission mock-up (Credit: Sierra Nevada Corporation)

SPARKS, Nev. (Oct. 23, 2014) – Sierra Nevada Corporation’s (SNC) Space Systems presents the Dream Chaser Science Mission Mock-Up at the American Society for Gravitational and Space Research (ASGSR) conference in Pasadena, California, through Oct. 26. In addition to the primary function of transporting crew and cargo to and from low-Earth orbit (LEO), SNC’s Dream Chaser® program team has been developing a science mission variant which leverages the inherent capabilities of the vehicle to offer a free-flying microgravity science laboratory.

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Judge Knocks Down SNC’s Motion for Commercial Crew Work Stoppage

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Dream Chaser shuttle. (Credit: NASA)

Dream Chaser shuttle. (Credit: NASA)

A Federal Court of Claims judge has rejected a motion by the Sierra Nevada Corporation to re-impose a stop-work order on NASA’s commercial crew program, according to press reports. It is not immediately clear why Judge Marian Blank Horn rejected the motion.

NASA has initially ordered Boeing and SpaceX to stop work on commercial crew contracts the agency awarded the two companies while the Government Accountability Office (GAO) reviewed an appeal by Sierra Nevada, which did not receive an award.

However, NASA later lifted the order, saying any delay would imperil efforts to keep the commercial crew program on schedule and meet its commitments for operating the International Space Station. Sierra Nevada subsequently appealed that decision.

The GAO has until Jan. 5 to rule on Sierra Nevada’s appeal of the commercial crew awards.