SNC awarded NASA contract to support Artemis lunar program

Wednesday November 20, 2019 0 comments Tags: Louisville, Sierra Nevada Corporation, Faith Ozmen, Steve Lindsey, NASA, Dream Chaser

SPARKS, Nev. -- Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) announced it has been awarded a NASA contract under the Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) on-ramp procurement.  

The contract positions SNC to support NASA's Artemis lunar program.

Although based in Nevada, SNC's Space Systems facilities are in Louisville.Sierra_Nevada_logo 

“SNC has decades of space experience and hundreds of missions under our belt, including to Mars," said SNC CEO and owner Fatih Ozmen.

"We are proud to leverage our satellite expertise, International Space Station resupply vehicle experience, and extensive development work for NASA’s lunar Gateway to provide innovative solutions for the moon.”

CLPS contractors have the opportunity to bid on task orders to provide end-to-end commercial payload services between the Earth and the lunar surface for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate (SMD), Human Exploration and Operations (HEO) Mission Directorate, and Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD). 

In support of NASA’s Artemis, CLPS missions could include pre-positioning assets on the moon to support the crewed mission in 2024.  

Through CLPS, SNC will mature and fly robotic spacecraft that will deliver a variety of small and large experiments, supplies and equipment to the moon. SNC is already involved in developing unique and critical systems for In-Situ Resource Utilization (ISRU).

Combined with its CLPS delivery capabilities, SNC can provide unique, end-to-end solutions to enhance lunar exploration, the company said.

“SNC is excited to have the opportunity to expand our exploration portfolio through the CLPS program,” said Steve Lindsey, former NASA space shuttle commander, astronaut and retired USAF pilot, now senior VP of strategy for SNC’s Space Systems business area.

“We are applying to the CLPS program the experience and knowledge gained from our lunar Gateway programs and cargo and science solutions for the space station through our Dream Chaser spacecraft. 

“SNC is proud to support solutions all the way from low-Earth orbit to the moon as a prime contractor.”

Planned lunar payloads include science and engineering payloads and instruments, rovers, and supplies to support a sustainable human presence on the moon. SNC also plans to make its lunar mission services available to other commercial customers pursuing exploration of the moon.

SNC also announced it delivered a test version of its Shooting Star cargo module to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center for testing ahead of its planned launch with SNC’s Dream Chaser spacecraft in 2021.

Shooting Star is a 15-foot attachment to Dream Chaser that will be used on NASA’s Commercial Resupply Services 2 (CRS-2) contract to provide extra storage for payloads and to facilitate cargo disposal upon re-entry into Earth’s atmosphere. 

“With the addition of Shooting Star we add a capability for NASA, sending even more critical science, food and cargo to the International Space Station, and contributing to the important work the astronauts are doing every day,” said Ozmen.

Dream Chaser will execute its first of at least six launches to the International Space Station in fall of 2021 under the CRS-2 contract. The cargo module will carry an additional 10,000 pounds of pressurized and unpressurized payloads to the International Space Station.

A key capability for Dream Chaser is performing cargo disposal upon re-entry. SNC’s Shooting Star cargo modules will burn up in the earth’s atmosphere, discarding unwanted material offloaded from the International Space Station.

“Shooting Star’s ability to deliver additional cargo and provide a disposal service makes it and Dream Chaser extremely effective and versatile,” said Lindsey.

For additional versatility, Shooting Star can support logistics services to other LEO destinations, including future commercial outposts, and for the lunar Gateway.

SNC said it has also developed a concept for a free-flying version that can act as a satellite to carry large payloads, with high-power capacity.