Tag: Sierra Nevada CorporationPage 2 of 20

Getting to Upmass: A Dragon’s Tale

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A Station that Needs Everything
A Scrappy Startup Contracted to Ship 35.4 Metric Tons of It
Ought to be Easy Enough, Right?

SpaceX Dragon freighter at ISS. (Credit: NASA)

SpaceX Dragon freighter at ISS. (Credit: NASA)

By Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

The International Space Station (ISS) is not exactly a self-sufficient outpost. The station’s occupants can’t jump into a Soyuz and pop over to an orbiting Wal-Mart when they run out of food, water or toothpaste. Everything the six astronauts need to survive — save for the random plastic wrench or replacement part they can now 3-D print — must be shipped up from the majestic blue planet 400 km below them.

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NSRC Day 2 Summary

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SNC technicians inspect the Dream Chaser ETA. (Credit: SNC)

SNC technicians inspect the Dream Chaser ETA. (Credit: SNC)

The second day of the Next-Generation Suborbital Researchers Conference took place in Colorado on Friday. Although I wasn’t able to attend, I have compiled highlights via Twitter posts. (You can follow along with hashtag #nsrc2016.)

Below is a summary of updates that cover Sierra Nevada Corporation, Cecil Airport, Spaceport Colorado, FAA Office of Commercial Space Transportation, World View Enterprises, NASA Flight Opportunities Program.

There was a presentation by Charles Walker, who was the first person to perform commercial experiments in space as a payload specialist on three space shuttle missions.

A separate panel discussion on human-tended space research reached the unsurprising consensus that government should lift its ban on sending scientists into space with their experiments.

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Sierra Nevada Awarded Follow-on Contract to Support Orbital ATK’s Commercial Resupply Services Programs

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 Orbital ATK's Cygnus Cargo Vehicle and SNC's PCBM Ring. (Credit: SNC)

Orbital ATK’s Cygnus Cargo Vehicle and SNC’s PCBM Ring. (Credit: SNC)

SPARKS, Nev., March 1, 2016 (SNC PR) – Sierra Nevada Corporation’s (SNC) Space Systems was recently awarded a contract to provide multiple Passive Common Berthing Mechanisms (PCBM) by Special Aerospace Services (SAS) of Boulder, Colorado for Orbital ATK’s Cygnus advanced maneuvering spacecraft in support of NASA’s Commercial Resupply Services 1 and 2 (CRS1, CRS2) programs.

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SpaceX Updates: Launch Scrubs & More Dragon Cargo Missions

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Falcon 9 launch (Credit: SpaceX)

Falcon 9 launch (Credit: SpaceX)

SpaceX’s cancellation of a Falcon 9 launch on Thursday was the second scrub in 24 hours related to fueling problems.

The launch was canceled with 1 minute, 40 seconds left to go in the countdown. The problem related to loading of super cold “densified” liquid oxygen (LOX) that has been added to the newest variant of SpaceX’s launch vehicle.

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SpaceX Has Highest CRS2 Score and Mission Cost

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SpaceX Dragon freighter at ISS. (Credit: NASA)

SpaceX Dragon freighter at ISS. (Credit: NASA)

SpaceX had the highest rating and mission price in the Commercial Resupply Services 2 (CRS2) contract competition, with Orbital ATK and Sierra Nevada Corporation running neck and neck for second place. Meanwhile, Lockheed Martin and Boeing finished out of the running due to cost.

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ESA to Invest in Sierra Nevada’s Dream Chaser

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Dream Chaser cargo ship docking with International Space Station. (Credit: SNC)

Dream Chaser cargo ship docking with International Space Station. (Credit: SNC)

Sierra Nevada Corporation is receiving an investment from ESA for its Dream Chaser spacecraft:

Once the agreement is signed, ESA will begin work building the first flight model of the International Berthing and Docking Mechanism (IBDM), which Sierra Nevada’s Dream Chaser Cargo System will use to attach itself to the space station.

ESA said it would spend 33 million euros ($36 million) to complete the design of the IBDM and build a flight model for Dream Chaser’s first cargo run. Future IBDMs will be financed by Sierra Nevada, ESA said.

ESA and Sierra Nevada in early 2014 agreed to adapt the IBDM to Sierra Nevada’s winged Dream Chaser, which was originally designed to carry astronauts and more recently has been adapted for unmanned cargo missions.

The agency spent about 8 million euros on the early work, which slowed after Sierra Nevada failed to win a NASA contract to send commercial crews to the space station.

ESA said it had spent some 20 million euros in total in recent years working on IBDM and on preparatory work for Dream Chaser.

At a press conference last week, ESA Director-General Johann-Dietrich Woerner said it was possible that Dream Chaser would be launched aboard Europe’s Ariane 5 booster from French Guiana. He said ESA could use the vehicle to launch microgravity experiments into space that would be returned to Earth.

Praise for NASA’s Commercial Cargo Contract Awards

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CSF_logo2Commercial Spaceflight Federation

NASA announced three cargo contract awards to ensure robust and affordable transportation of critical supplies, scientific experiments and commercial payloads to and from the International Space Station (ISS) through at least 2024. NASA selected Orbital ATK, Sierra Nevada Corporation, and SpaceX to continue and expand upon its successful public-private partnerships with American companies to obtain reliable cargo resupply services for the ISS.

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NASA Selects Sierra Nevada Dream Chaser to Deliver Cargo to Space Station

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SNC technicians inspect the Dream Chaser ETA. (Credit: SNC)

SNC technicians inspect the Dream Chaser ETA. (Credit: SNC)

SPARKS, Nev. (January 14, 2016) – Today, NASA competitively selected Sierra Nevada Corporation’s (SNC) Space Systems to receive a multi-year contract to provide cargo delivery, return and disposal services for the International Space Station (ISS). SNC received a Commercial Resupply Services 2 (CRS2) contract, to fulfill a minimum of six cargo delivery service missions to and from the ISS utilizing SNC’s Dream Chaser Cargo System. NASA’s selection of SNC for the CRS2 program will enable spacecraft reusability and runway landings for United States’ cargo delivery and access to the ISS through 2024.

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NASA Selects Orbital ATK, Sierra Nevada & SpaceX for ISS Cargo Delivery

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Dream Chaser cargo ship docking with International Space Station. (Credit: SNC)

Dream Chaser cargo ship docking with International Space Station. (Credit: SNC)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — NASA has awarded three cargo contracts to ensure the critical science, research and technology demonstrations that are informing the agency’s journey to Mars are delivered to the International Space Station (ISS) from 2019 through 2024. The agency unveiled its selection of Orbital ATK of Dulles, Virginia; Sierra Nevada Corporation of Sparks, Nevada; and SpaceX of Hawthorne, California to continue building on the initial resupply partnerships with two American companies.

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NASA Awards ORBITEC Contract for Advanced Propulsion Systems

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orbitec_snc_logoMADISON, Wis., December 10, 2015 (SNC PR) – NASA has awarded Sierra Nevada Corporation’s (SNC) wholly-owned subsidiary Orbital Technologies Corporation (ORBITEC) a competitive indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity (IDIQ) task order contract to support the development, demonstration and verification of advanced propulsion system technologies under the Research and Technologies for Aerospace Propulsion Systems 2 (RTAPS2) for NASA’s Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, Ohio.

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Sierra Nevada Completes Shipment of 11 Satellites for ORBCOMM’s OG2 Mission 2 Launch

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Stowed OG2 Satellites at SNC

Eleven OG2 Mission 2 Satellites at SNC’s facility in Colorado Prior to Shipment to Cape Canaveral, Florida. (Credit: SNC)

SPARKS, Nev. (Nov. 30, 2015) – Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) has delivered 11 ORBCOMM Generation 2 (OG2) satellites to the launch site at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, for ORBCOMM’s upcoming OG2 Mission 2 launch aboard the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, which is targeted for mid-December 2015.  As the prime contractor for ORBCOMM’s OG2 satellites, SNC is responsible for the design, manufacture and integration of the OG2 satellites in the constellation.

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ORBITEC Expands Vortex Engine With New Propellant Demo

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Thrust vortex engine test (Credit: ORBITEC/SNC)

Thrust vortex engine test (Credit: ORBITEC/SNC)

MADISON, Wis. (Nov. 10, 2015) – Sierra Nevada Corporation’s (SNC) wholly-owned subsidiary Orbital Technologies Corporation (ORBITEC) recently completed successful testing and demonstration of three different propellant combinations for its existing 30,000-pound thrust vortex rocket engine. Completing this advancement in less than a year, ORBITEC is rapidly progressing its offering of engines for orbital maneuvering, upper-stage engines that ignite at high altitude, and small-to-medium-scale air and ground launch stage engines.

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SpaceShipTwo’s PF-04: A High-Risk Flight

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Mike Alsbury

Mike Alsbury

Part 1 in a Series

By Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Mike Alsbury’s day began with a 3 a.m. wake up at his home in Tehachapi, Calif. He showered, dressed and ate a breakfast that likely consisted of an apple and a granola bar.

Alsbury rarely awoke at so early; but this Oct. 31 was a flight test day. That meant a lot of people were getting up early for the latest milestone in the Tier 1B program. At least that’s what they called it at Alsbury’s employer, Scaled Composites. The rest of the world knew it as WhiteKnightTwo and SpaceShipTwo – the foundation of Sir Richard Branson’s suborbital space tourism program. Scaled built and tested the vehicles for the British billionaire’s spaceline, Virgin Galactic.

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NASA to Award ISS Cargo Contracts on Thursday

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Dragon CRS-4 spacecraft berthed at the International Space Station. (Credit: NASA TV)

Dragon CRS-4 spacecraft berthed at the International Space Station. (Credit: NASA TV)

On Thursday, NASA is scheduled to announce contracts to fly cargo to the International Space Station (ISS) for 2018 until 2024.

Four companies reportedly remain in the Commercial Resupply Services 2 competition: incumbents Orbital ATK and SpaceX, and challengers Boeing and Sierra Nevada Corporation. Lockheed Martin has been reportedly eliminated from the competition.

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NASA Cargo Resupply Decision Set for Next Week

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Cygnus and ISS robotic arm (Credit: NASA)

Cygnus and ISS robotic arm (Credit: NASA)

On Nov. 5, NASA will announce contracts worth up to $14 billion to fly cargo to the International Space Station (ISS) for 2018 until 2024.

Four companies reportedly remain in the Commercial Resupply Services 2 competition: incumbents Orbital ATK and SpaceX, and challengers Boeing and Sierra Nevada Corporation. Lockheed Martin has been reportedly eliminated from the competition.

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