Sirangelo Resigns from Sierra Nevada Corporation

Mark Sirangelo (Credit: SNC)

Mark Sirangelo has resigned from Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) for what CEO Fatih Ozmen, owner says are personal reasons, Space News reports. He had run SNC’s Space Systems Division for nearly a decade after his former company, SpaceDev, was acquired.

“We are proud and grateful for all we have achieved in partnership with Mark over the last ten years,” Ozmen said. “Mark has an inspiring enthusiasm for space and a strong entrepreneurial spirit, both of which he has cultivated among our exceptionally talented Space Systems team.”

In an internal memo, Sirangelo said his departure was a “friendly transition” from the company and “is being made from a positive personal place.” The memo, obtained by SpaceNews, was first published by SpaceRef.

“I understand this change may be perceived as challenging but I wanted you to know that the state of our business is very good with strong leadership behind it,” Sirangelo said in the memo to employees. “We were a founding entity of the new commercial space industry and are now seen as one of its most successful leaders.”

Sirangelo said that Fatih Ozmen and Eren Ozmen, the president and co-owner of SNC, were “completely and positively committed” to its space systems business, and that he had been working with them on a transition plan for his departure for weeks. Sirangelo said he would work with company leadership on transition activities through July and serve in a “strategic advisory capacity for some time” after leaving the company.

COTS Hits the Big 1-0

Cygnus approaches ISS (Credit: NASA)
Cygnus approaches ISS (Credit: NASA)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — Ten years ago, on August 18, 2006, NASA announced agreements with two private companies that dramatically changed the way NASA does business and the landscape for the commercial space industry.

The announcement was rooted in long term trends dating back to the 1980s, but the immediate cause of this change can be traced to the report of the President’s Commission on Implementation of United States Space Exploration Policy. In the wake of the Columbia accident in 2003, and the announcement of the Vision for Space Exploration by President Bush in early 2004, the Commission was tasked with coming up with recommendations about future space policy.


A Tale of Two Prizes

SpaceShipOne on the floor beside the Spirit of St. Louis of the National Air & Space Museum. (Credit: National Air & Space Museum)
SpaceShipOne on the floor beside the Spirit of St. Louis of the National Air & Space Museum. (Credit: National Air & Space Museum)

Two major flight-related anniversaries are being celebrated this week. Today marks the 89th anniversary of Charles Lindbergh’s historic solo flight across the Atlantic aboard the Spirit of St. Louis. Lucky Lindy took off from New York on this date and arrived in Paris some 33.5 hours later, claiming the $25,000 Orteig Prize.

Wednesday was the 20th anniversary of the launch of X Prize (later Ansari X Prize). Inspired by the Orteig Prize, it offered $10 million for the first privately build vehicle to fly to suborbital space twice within two weeks. The Ansari X Prize was won in October 2004 by a team led by Burt Rutan and Paul Allen with SpaceShipOne.

After Lindbergh’s flight, a public that had previously shunned commercial aviation embraced it with a passion. Following the Ansari X Prize, Richard Branson vowed to begin flying tourists to space aboard a successor vehicle, SpaceShipTwo, within three years. Nearly a dozen years and four deaths later, Branson has yet to fulfill this promise.

The SpaceShipTwo program has now taken longer than it took for NASA to go from President John F. Kennedy proposal to land a man on the moon to the completion of the program with the splashdown of Apollo 17. NASA launched the space shuttle Columbia exactly 20 years after the first spaceflight by Yuri Gagarin.

So, why have things taken so long? And why did one prize succeed beyond the dreams of its sponsor, while the space prize it inspired has promised so few practical results? The answer is a complex one that I addressed back in March in a story titled, “Prizes, Technology and Safety.” I’ve republished the story below with links to other posts in a series about flight safety.


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

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.


This Week on The Space Show

This week on The Space Show with David Livingston….

Monday, January 2, 2012: 2-3:30 PM PST: We welcome Michael Listner, attorney, to the program to discuss national and international space law. Michael is a contributor to several online publications, including Space Safety Magazine He is also a Senior Contributor to Defense Policy.Org, Thus our discussion will cover several very interesting areas of space law.

SPECIAL DAY: Wednesday, January 4, 2012, 7-8:30 PM PST: We welcome Mark Sirangelo to the program. Mr. Sirangelo leads Sierra Nevada Space Systems, a producer of satellites, space transportation vehicles, propulsion systems and space subsystems. He also is the Chairman of the SNC Space Systems Board. He was formerly the Chairman & CEO of SpaceDev, Inc., prior to its merging with SNC.

Friday, January 6, 2012: 9:30-11AM PST: We welcome back Christian B. Luginbuhl to discuss and update us on the effort to establish Dark Skies to mitigate light pollution. Christian Luginbuhl is an astronomer at the United States Naval Observatory, Flagstaff Station, where he has worked on a variety of photometric and astrometric projects since beginning work there as a summer student in 1981. His research has involved star-forming regions, young stars and transient phenomena such as gamma-ray bursters and optical transients.

Sunday, January 8, 2012, 12-1:30 PM PST: We welcome Dr. Edmund Storms to the program to discuss new developments with LERN, cold fusion, CANR.

Sierra Nevada’s Dream Chaser Shuttle Based on Abandoned NASA Project

Sierra Nevada Corporation's Dream Chaser - a seven-person space shuttle designed for orbital flight.

Sierra Nevada Building On NASA Design
Aviation Week

The Colorado-based company is modeling Dream Chaser on the HL-20 lifting-body vehicle that NASA started as a potential International Space Station (ISS) crew rescue vehicle, which would have been able to transport a full station crew fleeing an emergency to a horizontal landing on runways anywhere in the world.


NASA’s $50 Million Commercial Crew Investment to Fund Different Approaches

Sierra Nevada Corporation's Dream Chaser - a seven-person space shuttle designed for orbital flight.
Sierra Nevada's Dream Chaser - a space shuttle designed for orbital flight and ISS servicing.

The $50 million in contract awards that NASA announced earlier this month will fund a number of approaches to commercial human spaceflight, including a new capsule and a small space shuttle. The space agency also spread out awards between newer, entrepreneurial companies and established aerospace giants.


eSpace Hopes to Ignite Entrepreneurial Space Ventures

CNN has an interesting piece about eSpace: The Center for Space Entrepreneurship, a new incubator that is a collaboration between the University of Colorado and SpaceDev.

In a cavernous testing facility called the “Incubator,” specialized equipment recreates the unique conditions of a journey into space — from platforms that mimic the violent shaking at liftoff to chambers that replicate space’s bitter cold and complete vacuum.


SpaceDev, U of Colorado at Boulder Create eSpace Entrepreneur Center


The University of Colorado at Boulder, a national leader in aerospace engineering, and SpaceDev Inc., a leading entrepreneurial space company located in Louisville, Colo., have partnered to create eSpace: The Center for Space Entrepreneurship. eSpace is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to creating new entrepreneurial space companies, commercializing aerospace technologies created within these companies and developing the aerospace workforce to support them.


Sierra Nevada Completes Acquisition of SpaceDev


SpaceDev, Inc. announced today that privately held Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) has completed the acquisition of SpaceDev by way of a merger of a wholly owned subsidiary of SNC into SpaceDev. As a result of the merger, SpaceDev is now a wholly owned subsidiary of SNC. Pursuant to the merger agreement, all shares of SpaceDev common stock outstanding at the effective time of the merger have been converted into the right to receive $0.72658 per share in cash.


SpaceDev Reports Revenue Increase on Verge of Merger with Sierra Nevada


SpaceDev, Inc. reported its financial results for the three and nine months ended September 30, 2008 with year to date revenues of approximately $28.3 million, an increase of over 11.6%, net income for the nine months of almost $500,000 and Adjusted EBITDA of approximately $2.1 million for the same nine month period.

“We are fortunate to have the industry’s most outstanding employees and I would like to thank them for their dedication and hard work which enabled these results,” said Mark N. Sirangelo, SpaceDev’s Chairman and Chief Executive Officer.


SpaceDev Acquired by Sierra Nevada (the Prime Systems Integrator, Not the Beer Co.)

SpaceDev agrees to be acquired
North County Times

Private space flight pioneer SpaceDev Inc. said Monday that it has agreed to be bought for $38 million, or 68 to 72 cents per share, by Sierra Nevada Corp., a privately held company based in Sparks, Nev.

The price represents a 42 percent to 50 percent premium to the average closing price of SpaceDev stock in the previous 30 trading days.

In over-the-counter trading Monday, SpaceDev shares closed at 42 cents, up 2 cents for the day. Announcement of the sale was made after markets closed.