This week, Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) announced the signing of a new Space Act Agreement (SAA) Annex with NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC) and a Teaming Agreement with Teledyne Brown Engineering (TBE), both of which will expand the scope of work in Huntsville, Ala., (where both Marshall SFC and TBE are located) to advance SNC’s Dream Chaser spacecraft to enable science payload operations and technology development to support future low-Earth orbit missions planned for the Dream Chaser beginning later this decade.
“We are pleased to announce that we are increasing our presence in Alabama by expanding our relationship with the Marshall Space Flight Center and adding Teledyne Brown Engineering to our growing Dream Chaser team. Each of these organizations provide experts in their respective fields and have already begun applying their invaluable knowledge and experience,” said Mark Sirangelo, corporate vice president and head of SNC’s Space Systems. “We will work together to evaluate future low-Earth orbit (LEO) mission concepts for the Dream Chaser in the area of scientific payload operations with the goal of enhancing and enabling science in LEO. We are honored they are joining our already dynamic list of partners – our ‘Dream Team’ – which now includes over 15 companies, seven NASA centers and a growing list of universities. The team spans more than 30 states and several countries with the common goal of furthering the development of the multi-mission Dream Chaser spacecraft.”
It was only two weeks ago that SNC announced the successful completion of a “flight-profile data review” milestone for Dream Chaser, which you can read about HERE.
SNC has had a relationship Marshall SFC for a couple years now through a Space Act Agreement signed in 2012, working together to use Marshall’s expertise and resources to perform wind tunnel testing on various configurations of the Dream Chaser and its ULA Atlas-V rocket in Marshall’s 14-inch trisonic wind tunnel lab. During those tests nine Dream Chaser/Atlas-V launch stack configurations were tested over a Mach range of 0.4, or 304 miles per hour at sea level, to Mach 5, or 3,800 miles per hour at sea level, at various launch vehicle roll angles, with over 400 data runs performed at subsonic, transonic, and supersonic speeds to study the effects of how air moved past the scale Dream Chaser/Atlas-V rocket model.
The new agreement will team SNC’s Space System’s Advanced Development group (responsible for overseeing the multi-mission capability of the Dream Chaser) with Marshall’s Mission Operations Laboratory (an authority in mission operations for science payloads aboard the ISS) to evaluate Design Reference Missions, operations planning, training, and mission execution for utilizing the Dream Chaser to complement and support science being carried out on the International Space Station.
“We are glad to share the knowledge and expertise we’ve gained through our decades of experience with payload development for space shuttle missions and operating and maintaining science research on the International Space Station,” said Patrick Scheuermann, Marshall director. “We have enjoyed a successful partnership with Sierra Nevada Corporation for more than two years and look forward to continued collaboration.”
Under the new Teaming Agreement with SNC, Teledyne Brown—who is leading a team of civil servants and experienced commercial contractors who run Marshall’s Mission Operations Laboratory—will work with SNC to evaluate strategic and technical partnership opportunities for the Dream Chaser Advanced Development team and other space systems collaborations.
“We are very pleased to team with Sierra Nevada Corporation in the development of the Dream Chaser,” said Rex D. Geveden, executive vice president, Teledyne Technologies Incorporated. “This is an exceptional opportunity to apply our capabilities in payload development and integration to an exciting new space transportation system.”
The Dream Chaser’s potential as a reusable lifting-body (winged glider) spacecraft make it an ideal vehicle to support a variety of low-Earth orbit missions. The vehicle is unique—no other company is developing anything similar, nor have those other companies announced any target launch date(s) for their first crewed orbital spaceflights. Dream Chaser is expected to launch on its first autonomous orbital spaceflight from Florida’s Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in November 2016, with the first crewed mission targeting a launch date in the third quarter of 2017.