Sierra Nevada Teams with ORBITEC, Aerojet Rocketdyne on NextSTEP-2 Habitat Work

Concept image of Sierra Nevada Corporation's habitation prototype, based on its Dream Chaser cargo module. (Credit: Sierra Nevada Corporation)
Concept image of Sierra Nevada Corporation’s habitation prototype, based on its Dream Chaser cargo module. (Credit: Sierra Nevada Corporation)

SPARKS, Nev. (SNC PR) – Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) has been selected to develop a deep space, long-duration, human habitat design and prototype for NASA. The partnership, under NASA’s Next Space Technologies for Exploration Partnerships-2 (NextSTEP-2) Broad Agency Announcement, Appendix A, will allow SNC and its partners to use their experience to design a complete habitat system architecture and build a full-scale prototype for testing and evaluation.

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A Closer Look at NextSTEP-2 Deep Space Habitat Concepts

Concept image of Sierra Nevada Corporation's habitation prototype, based on its Dream Chaser cargo module. (Credit: Sierra Nevada Corporation)
Concept image of Sierra Nevada Corporation’s habitation prototype, based on its Dream Chaser cargo module. (Credit: Sierra Nevada Corporation)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — Through exploration, NASA is broadening horizons, enhancing knowledge, and improving our way of life. Our efforts to explore and discover the universe are increasing in both scope and duration. The Space Launch System (SLS), the most powerful rocket in the world, soon will launch the Orion spacecraft and its crew deeper into space than ever before. Expanding humanity’s presence farther into the solar system also requires advancements in the development of habitats and the systems to keep astronauts safe as they live and work in deep space for long periods of time.

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NASA Awards 6 NextSTEP-2 Contracts for Deep Space Habitats

Orion and the NextSTEP habitat in the cis-lunar proving ground – the next step from low Earth orbit on the way to Mars. (Credit; Lockheed Martin)
Orion and the NextSTEP habitat in the cis-lunar proving ground – the next step from low Earth orbit on the way to Mars. (Credit; Lockheed Martin)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA has selected six U.S. companies to help advance the Journey to Mars by developing ground prototypes and concepts for deep space habitats.

Through the public-private partnerships enabled by the Next Space Technologies for Exploration Partnerships-2 (NextSTEP-2) Broad Agency Announcement, Appendix A, NASA and industry partners will expand commercial development of space in low-Earth orbit while also improving deep space exploration capabilities to support more extensive human spaceflight missions.

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Aerojet Rocketdyne to Supply Electrical Power System for Dream Chaser

Dream Chaser test vehicle prepares to ship. (Credit: Sierra Nevada Corporation)
Dream Chaser test vehicle prepares to ship. (Credit: Sierra Nevada Corporation)

SACRAMENTO, Calif., Aug. 02, 2016 (Aerojet Rocketdyne PR) — Aerojet Rocketdyne, a subsidiary of Aerojet Rocketdyne Holdings, Inc. (NYSE:AJRD), has been awarded a contract from Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) to supply the electrical power system for the Dream Chaser, a commercial spacecraft that will carry cargo to and from the International Space Station. The system will regulate power generated from the solar arrays and distribute it to the reusable spacecraft’s avionics, thermal and propulsion systems, as well as payloads that require electrical power.

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NASA Advisory Council Receives Updates on NASA Programs

NASA LOGOThe NASA Advisory Council has been meeting in Cleveland this week, receiving program updates from top agency officials. Below is a summary of the first two days based on Tweets by Jeff Foust (@jeff_foust) and Marcia Smith (@SpcPlcyOnline). There are updates below on:

  • Commercial crew
  • Commercial cargo
  • International Space Station
  • SLS/Orion
  • NextSTEP
  • Deep-space human mission planning
  • SpaceX’s Red Dragon
  • Mars 2020
  • Blue Origin

Enjoy!
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Sierra Nevada Completes Second Dream Chaser Milestone

Dream Chaser spacecraft in orbit. (Credit: Sierra Nevada Corporation)
Dream Chaser spacecraft in orbit. (Credit: Sierra Nevada Corporation)

SPARKS, Nev., June 25, 2016 (SNC PR) – Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) has passed the second Integration Certification Milestone under NASA’s Commercial Resupply Services 2 (CRS-2) contract. NASA assessed and fully approved SNC’s detailed approach for getting the Dream Chaser Cargo System to the International Space Station (ISS).

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Getting to Upmass: A Dragon’s Tale

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

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

 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

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

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

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

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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