Sparks, NV – December 15th, 2010 – Sierra Nevada Corporation announced today that Virgin Galactic, LLC (VG) has given its support to Sierra Nevada’s Space Systems Dream Chaser Orbital Space Vehicle development team and has been included in SNC’s submitted proposal response to NASA for the next phase of NASA’s Commercial Crew Development program known as CCDev2.
Mark N. Sirangelo, Corporate Vice President and head of Sierra Nevada Space Systems commented, “We are thrilled to have Virgin Galactic as part of our effort to make commercial orbital transportation a reality. The knowledge gained in the development and promotion of the history making SpaceShipTwo suborbital system will add considerably to our program. VG joins a growing group of world class space companies who form our Dream Chaser team and will truly enhance our efforts.”
VG will investigate ways to use its considerable expertise, reputation and experience to provide global sales and marketing services for the Dream Chaser. This effort could include the selling of seats on the vehicle as well as exploring the contracted use of VG’s WhiteKnightTwo vehicle as a carrier aircraft for the Dream Chaser during its atmospheric flight test program. This effort is an expansion of VG’s and SNC’s current multi-year relationship in which Sierra Nevada is the prime motor contractor for VG’s suborbital SpaceShipTwo program.
Commenting in Virgin’s concurrent announcement, Sir Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Galactic said: “Virgin Galactic has shown in the past few years how private sector investment and innovation can lead to a rapid transformation of stagnant technologies. We are now very close to making the dream of sub-orbital space a reality for thousands of people at a cost and level of safety unimaginable even in the recent past. We know that many of those same people, including myself, would also love to take an orbital space trip in the future, so we are putting our weight behind new technologies which could deliver that safely whilst driving down the enormous current costs of manned orbital flight by millions of dollars. Today’s announcement is an important step along the way to achieving our ultimate and long term goal of leading an industry which opens up the huge potential of space to everyone, whether it be for the experience itself, for science research, for fast and efficient transportation around the globe or for delivering payloads to space safely, cleanly and cheaply.”
George Whitesides, CEO of Virgin Galactic added, “We see the Dream Chaser Orbital Vehicle as a promising opportunity to provide safe, cost-effective low earth orbit access to a range of users. All of us at Virgin Galactic look forward to working with the SNC Dream Chaser team.”
The Dream Chaser is a human spacecraft that will transport crew and cargo to the International Space Station and will be a flexible transportation system for a variety of other commercial low Earth orbit missions. It is a reusable, piloted lifting body spacecraft that can carry seven people and critical cargo to and from orbit with a return to a standard runway landing. Dream Chaser’s heritage is based on the NASA HL-20 spacecraft and is a safe spacecraft design that features low g forces during re-entry with on-board propulsion utilizing SNC’s proprietary hybrid motor technology. SNC has been developing the Dream Chaser, as the owner and prime contractor, for over five years and in 2009 won the largest contract under NASA’s Commercial Crew Development Program (CCDev1) to advance orbital vehicle development. SNC has completed, on time and on budget, all four critical milestones under the CCDev1 program including building and testing the first vehicle structure and flight rocket motors while advancing the design of all required systems for orbital flight. SNC leads a team of eight experienced space companies and organizations working to begin commercial orbital flight operation by 2014.
About Virgin Galactic
Virgin Galactic is on track to be the world’s first commercial spaceline. The new Spaceship (VSS Enterprise) and Mothership (VMS Eve) are both being developed for Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic by Mojave-based Scaled Composites. Founded by Burt Rutan, Scaled developed SpaceShipOne, which in 2004 claimed the $10m Ansari X prize as the world’s first privately developed manned spacecraft. Virgin Galactic’s new vehicles share much of the same basic design but are being built to carry six customers on sub-orbital space flights, allowing an out-of-the-seat zero gravity experience and offering astounding views of the planet from the black sky of space. The VSS Enterprise test flight program will continue through 2010 and into 2011, prior to commercial operations which will be based at Virgin Galactic’s future headquarters at Spaceport America in New Mexico.
About Sierra Nevada Corporation
Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) has a reputation for rapid, innovative, and agile technology solutions in electronics, aerospace, avionics, space, propulsion, micro-satellite, aircraft, communications systems and solar energy for both the private and public sectors. Founded in 1963, SNC’s seven unique business areas employ approximately 2000 people in 35 different locations in 20 states – all of whom are dedicated to providing leading-edge solutions to SNC’s dynamic customer base.
SNC is the Top Woman-Owned Federal Contractor in the United States. Over its 47 year history, SNC has remained focused on providing its customers the very best in diversified technologies to meet their needs and has a strong and proven track record of success. The company continues to focus its growth on the commercial sector through internal advancements and outside acquisitions, including the emerging markets of telemedicine, nanotechnology, renewable energy and net-centric operations. For more information on SNC visit www.sncorp.com