Sierra Nevada Corporation Dream Chaser Program Expands

©Sierra Nevada Corporation

Artists concept of Dream Chaser and Atlas V on the pad.

The Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) has announced an expansion of its Dream Chaser program, which now includes a mix of small businesses, legacy aerospace firms, university partners, and foreign space operation organizations, in "32 states, 50 Congressional districts, and 2 foreign nations."

Today's announcement follows an August 5th press conference at the AIAA SPACE 2014 Forum in San Diego, where Mark Sirangelo, corporate vice president of SNC Space Systems, announced that the "Dream Chaser" spacecraft is "on track for its anticipated first launch in November, 2016." Sirangelo told the assembled reporters that the November launch would be unmanned and would be the first of two required flights for certification. A crewed launch will follow in 2017, and Sirangelo expects "5 test flights in all, 3 of them crewed."

With this morning's announcement, the Dream Chaser team now includes: "Lockheed Martin, United Launch Alliance, Draper Laboratory, Aerojet Rocketdyne, MacDonald Dettwiler & Associates Ltd. (MDA), UTC Aerospace Systems, Jacobs, Moog Broad Reach, Siemens PLM Software, Southwest Research Institute, and a number of companies categorized as small and disadvantaged businesses that have or are supporting the program such as Craig Technologies, David Clark Company, Special Aerospace Services, AdamWorks, and Arctic Slope Research Corporation."

SNC has also reached agreements with the European Space Agency and the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency, to explore using Dream Chaser for work in low earth orbit.

The Dream Chaser program is also giving the next generation of aerospace scientists and engineers a chance to get involved in the program - with ongoing research and development work at 9 universities, including: University of Colorado Boulder, University of Maryland - College Park, Rice Space Institute, Tuskegee University, and Utah State University.

Sirangelo notes that the rich mix of partnerships that SNC has forged ensures that "this combined Dream Team is poised to provide safe, affordable, and sustained orbital transportation to enable discovery, development, and dynamic opportunities for the long-term in space."

By Duane Hyland, special to SpaceRef

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