Last August, the group Sierra Nevada Corp. (CNS) has signed agreements regarding its space plane Dream Chaser and other defense vehicles. The Dream Chaser, which is able to land on a runway like the space shuttles of the NASAwill be in particular used for a cargo mission to the ISS in 2024. During this flight, the vessel will carry “a variety of experiments in the life sciences” for Yuri, a German space biotechnology company.
This information was announced by Sierra Space, which is a subsidiary of SNC, on Wednesday, August 31. This mission will be part of a total at least six unmanned missions to the ISS using Dream Chaser.
All Dream Chaser missions will take off from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station. The ship will be launched by rockets United Launch Alliance Vulcan Centaur. It will then land on a conventional airstrip.
Bringing experiences back to Earth
Currently, NASA uses the services of SpaceX and Northrop Grumman to send payloads aboard the International Space Station. The capsule Dragon of SpaceX is able to bring experiments back to Earth while the capsule Cygnus of Northrop Grumman disintegrates in the atmosphere. With the arrival of Dream Chaser, NASA will have on hand another option to bring back material from the station.
Sierra Space and the Defense Sector
Apart from missions for civilian entities, Sierra Space and SNC also have several ongoing projects in the defense sector. We know, for example, that the UK Ministry of Defense asked SNC to use a high-altitude balloon for a job of “stratospheric communications and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance”. This platform will be deployed in areas with minimal ground support or maintenance.
On the other hand, there is also the aircraft RAPCON-X from SNC who is looking for an opportunity with the United States Army. The latter is in the process of evaluating the next steps of a program which aims to replace the Beechcraft RC-12 Guardrail aircraft with a new generation system.
According to information, SNC plans to spend around 201 million euros to build 2 variants of the RAPCON-X for January 2024. The company anticipates the next phase of the program HADES or High Accuracy Detection and Exploitation System of the American Army.