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Posted 07 August 2014 - 19:31
Posted 09 August 2014 - 02:22
Sierra Nevada On Track For Restart Of Lifting Body Flight Tests
SAN DIEGO Sierra Nevada Space Systems is readying the refurbished engineering test article (ETA) version of its Dream Chaser lifting body vehicle for a new series of flight tests this fall and says assembly of the first space-capable version of the vehicle is on track for an orbital test flight in November 2016.
The company, which is competing with the Dream Chaser against capsule designs from Boeing and SpaceX for a contract to take astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS) under NASAs Commercial Crew Program, is more than 90% through the qualification program.
"We see our vehicle as more of an SUV for servicing of the ISS as well as to make low Earth orbit accessible for all of us," says Sierra Nevada Space Systems President Mark Sirangelo.
Speaking at the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics Space 2014 conference here, Sirangelo says, "We have entered critical design review [CDR] and have completed nine of the subsystems that needed to be done. We have passed a significant group of CDRs on various subsystems ranging from the actuator controls to the cabin full-scale mockup."
Overall Sierra has completed 30 milestones and is more than 92% of the way through the Commercial Crew integrated Capability (CCiCap) contract. Under a recently granted extension, Sierra now has until March 2015 to complete these milestones, rather than the end of August 2014 as previously scheduled.
Sierra also submitted certification documents for the Dream Chaser to NASA and "received the highest grades we could on it," Sirangelo says. The structures for two orbital test vehicles (OTVs) are under assembly at Lockheed Martins Michoud site in New Orleans, with final assembly due to take place at Lockheeds Fort Worth site starting in late 2015. The first vehicle is booked for launch in November 2016 on an Atlas V and will be unmanned. However, two flights are required for certification and a crewed launch will follow in 2017.
Commenting on plans for the upcoming atmospheric flight tests at Edwards AFB, California, Sirangelo says, "We got so much good data [from the first flight on Oct. 26, 2013], we didnt need to do a second flight, even though we had an issue with the vehicle." The vehicle overturned on landing after one of the main landing legs failed to deploy. This was later traced to contamination of the hydraulic fluid, he adds. For the upcoming tests, "We will do between two and five additional flights. A couple will be crewed. As a result of the vehicle being upgraded, we will be flying our orbital flight software, which will give us about a years worth of advancement on the vehicle." Flights are expected to last over a six- to nine-month period, he adds.
Posted 20 August 2014 - 05:52
Posted 29 August 2014 - 07:45
Global Partnerships Pave Path Forward for Private International Dream Chaser For Multiple Purposes
By amassing “global partnerships with 21 space agencies” the private Dream Chaser space plane has a solid foundation and “a path to continue” forward, Mark Sirangelo, corporate vice president of Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) Space Systems, told AmericaSpace in Part 4 of our exclusive, one-on-one interview about their efforts to build a cost effective and potentially international version of their ‘astronaut taxi’ to the International Space Station (ISS) as well as multiple exciting missions beyond!
“We have 21 space agencies that have a connection to the program now, which is pretty incredible,” Sirangelo told me. “We have a path with these other relationships to continue.”
“A European or Japanese version of Dream Chaser is possible in the future.”
Dream Chaser’s inaugural launch atop an Atlas V rocket from Florida is slated for Nov. 2016 on an unmanned orbital test flight. Furthermore SNC has already begun building the orbital vehicle and bought the rocket.
Over the past months SNC has laid the foundation for a global expansion through a series of agreements with new international partners including ESA (European Space Agency), DLR (German Aerospace Agency) and JAXA (Japanese Aerospace and Exploration Agency).
SNC has used NASA’s ISS model as the basis for how to build effective global partnerships. And those global space agencies also need to find new ways to pay NASA for maintaining their ISS funding commitments into the future since its longevity was recently extended to at least 2024.
And the international partners may in fact also hold the key to paving the path forward for the Dream Chaser program, regardless of the outcome of NASA’s imminent and momentous downselect decision concerning who wins the contract to build the private ‘space taxis’ aimed at restarting manned blastoffs from US launch pads.
I concluded Part 3 of the Mark Sirangelo interview with this question …. What happens to Dream Chaser if Sierra Nevada does not receive the CCtCAP commercial crew contract from NASA? Do you go ahead anyway or stop?
“We have all the elements to be able to go ahead. Whether we go ahead is a matter of whether there is a business case for it. We can’t say at this time,” Sirangelo replied.
“NASA is an important part of this. But we have been laying the foundation with other relationships as well.”
Here’s how. Europe and Japan can contribute money, technology, launchers and even new variants of the Dream Chaser that could be critical not just to the vehicles viability, but also to the very survival of the ISS itself as well as opening up an array of entirely new mission concepts for science and exploration.
“We are trying to help these global space agencies, help ourselves and also give NASA support for maintaining the ISS as long as possible,” Sirangelo elaborated.
“Dream Chaser is not just designed for the ISS mission. There are multiple uses of the Dream Chaser beyond the ISS.”
Dream Chaser is a winged, manned space plane being developed by SNC to restore America’s indigenous capability to ferry American astronauts from American soil to low Earth orbit and the International Space Station (ISS) – with funding from NASA’s Commercial Crew Integrated Capability initiative (CCiCAP) under the auspices of the agency’s commercial crew program.
Posted 26 September 2014 - 07:03
Sierra Nevada To Continue Dream Chaser; May Protest Contract Award
Sierra Nevada Corp. plans to develop its Dream Chaser commercial crew vehicle despite its loss to Boeing and SpaceX in the three-way NASA competition for contracts to take the development to flight test and operations.
The company has built an international network of partners and potential customers, including the European Space Agency (ESA), German Aerospace Center (DLR) and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA). Mark Sirangelo, who heads the company’s Space Systems unit in Louisville, Colorado, said Sept. 25 that Sierra Nevada will bid on the second-round NASA Commercial Resupply Services (CRS-2) contract to deliver cargo to the International Space Station.
He also said the company may file a formal protest of NASA’s decision to reject its commercial crew bid with the U.S. Government Accountability Office. The deadline for a bid protest, which could lead to a reconsideration of the contract awards, is Sept. 26, and Sirangelo suggested Sierra Nevada may have financial and technical grounds for the action. A final corporate decision, in consultation with the company’s lawyers, was planned following a meeting Sept. 25.
Despite the plans to move ahead with development of the Dream Chaser, a lifting-body reusable spaceplane based on NASA’s canceled HL-20 testbed, the company laid off about 90 employees Sept. 24 in response to the NASA decision, which was announced Sept. 17. Sirangelo said those laid off were hired in anticipation of winning the contract, and the slots could be filled again as the development moves forward.
"All the companies submitted an acceptable contract with their proposal, which meant you could start very quickly," Sirangelo said. "Because of that we had to say ‘We can’t wait until contract announcement to start hiring people; we have to go out and start gearing up ahead of time.’ So we did that, and we hired about 120, 130 people who came on board knowing that their jobs were contingent on the win. Those people we did lay off yesterday, but that still leaves a very significant core team."
The layoffs hit about 9% of the company’s Colorado workforce, he said. Over the past five years that workforce has grown from about 200 to more than 1,100, according to company figures.
The company still has NASA funding under earlier phases of the agency’s commercial crew development effort, and that work will continue as planned. Overall, Sirangelo says, Sierra Nevada is in good shape financially to continue Dream Chaser development in association with its partners. In addition to ESA, DLR and JAXA, industrial partners on the project include Lockheed Martin, which has built a flight-hardware composite structure for the first orbital Dream Chaser; United Launch Alliance, which would launch Dream Chaser on an Atlas V; Aerojet Rocketdyne, MacDonald Dettwiler, Jacobs, Moog, Siemens PLM Software, and Southwest Research Institute, according to the company website.
Posted 26 September 2014 - 21:21
James DeanDean @flatoday_jdean
Sierra Nevada has protested NASA's commercial crew contract awards to Boeing and SpaceX. @usgao must resolve by Jan. 5.
Posted 30 September 2014 - 03:38
Sierra Nevada Corporation to Introduce Dream Chaser® Global Project Spaceflight Program Sept. 30
SPARKS, Nev. (Sept. 29, 2014) – Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) is pleased to announce it will be presenting an overview of its Global Project spaceflight program Tuesday, Sept. 30 at 11:45 a.m. EST at the 65th International Astronautical Congress (IAC) in Toronto. The Global Project offers clients a unique turn-key spaceflight capability based on SNC’s Dream Chaser crewed space vehicle.
SNC’s Global Project offers clients across the globe access to low Earth orbit (LEO) without the time, resources and financial burden of developing the necessary capabilities or infrastructure to support a mature human spaceflight program. The Global Project utilizes the Dream Chaser spacecraft as a baseline vehicle which, in turn, can be customized by the client for an array of missions to support government, commercial, academic and international goals. The individual mission customization of the Global Project can be applied to both crewed and uncrewed variants for a single dedicated mission or suite of missions.
“The SNC Global Project provides, for the first time in history, an unprecedented and unique set of spaceflight opportunities for clients around the world,” said John Roth, vice president of business development for SNC’s Space Systems. “SNC is offering access to crewed or uncrewed space missions that include an optionally-piloted space vehicle, a launch vehicle or choice of launch vehicles, and the supporting infrastructure and systems required for such a valuable program. The Global Project offers a client the opportunity to leverage and expand its local technology and industrial base by engaging government research and development laboratories, aerospace industry and universities in developing payloads, vehicle modifications, and ground processing capabilities in support of the selected LEO missions. This program will literally make space accessible to people all over the world, enabling those who have only dreamed about going to space to finally achieve it.”
In addition to offering customized access to LEO as part of the Global Project, SNC has also developed a tailored, world-class training program based on NASA’s strict certification standards that includes preparation for crewed flights, payload and vehicle safety operations. Dream Chaser astronauts undergo training at SNC’s Dream Chaser Training Facility and Space Operations Center. Individuals complete pre-flight, ground, payload and mission control training, and obtain mission briefings in addition to other necessary training as determined by the mission. SNC can also assist clients in setting up in-country training programs as needed.
SNC presents more detailed information on the Dream Chaser Global Project at the 65th IAC in Toronto, Sept. 30, 2014 at 11:45 a.m. EST.
The Dream Chaser is a reusable, lifting-body spacecraft capable of crewed or autonomous flight. Dream Chaser is the only lifting-body spacecraft capable of a runway landing anywhere in the world.
Posted 06 December 2014 - 10:29