Sierra Space (Sierra Nevada Corp, SNC)

Reusable automated cargo lifting-body spaceplane. Space Station plans unveiled.

Created: 2018-11-22

Updated: 2022-09-18

Founded
Country
1963
USA
Funding
$1.4B+
Website
Sierra Nevada Corp
Social
Sierra Space (Sierra Nevada Corp, SNC)

Service - Dream Chaser, Shooting Star

Classification
Space Stations & Habitats
Category
Transport Service (Earth-LEO)
Commercial Space Station
Fields
Food for Space
Status
3) Development
First launch
2019

Another key element of Dream Chaser is a cargo module, called Shooting Star, that is attached to the aft end of Dream Chaser. That module gives the vehicle additional capacity for transporting cargo to the station as well as a means of disposing cargo from the station. We’ve worked on designs that would allow it to even carry a couple of astronauts in either a low Earth orbit standalone mission or to supplement ISS capabilities or even to do free-flying missions. The module also be repurposed for cislunar missions, such as transporting cargo to NASA’s lunar Gateway.

Awarded a contract to repurpose SNC’s Shooting Star transport vehicle as a proposed commercial solution for an Unmanned Orbital Outpost – essentially a scalable, autonomous space station for experiments and logistics demonstrations – by the Defense Innovation Unit (DIU). SNC’s Shooting Star transport vehicle serves as the core structure for the proposed design.

Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) is continuing to advance its development of the company’s LIFE™ Habitat (Large Inflatable Fabric Environment) under Phase 3 of NASA’s Next Space Technologies for Exploration Partnerships (NextSTEP-2) Appendix A habitat program. In Phase 3, NASA has asked companies to focus on habitat design concepts that could be used on the lunar surface or as a Mars transportation habitat to test at the Gateway. SNC’s LIFE habitat is unique in that it launches on a conventional rocket and inflates on-orbit to a large structure that is three stories tall, and 27 feet in diameter. It can comfortably sleep four astronauts, with additional room for science experiments, exercise equipment, a medical center and SNC’s Astro Garden® system, which the company is developing as an option to grow fresh produce for astronauts on long-duration space missions.

Plans to launch a commercial space station with inflatable human habitats within seven years. The company's orbiting space station has no name yet. The space station is a configuration of multiple large inflatable LIFE™ habitats that can be serviced by both cargo and crew carrying Dream Chaser® spaceplanes. SNC also released that a crewed Dream Chaser will be able to shuttle private astronauts and to serve as the only vehicle capable of rescuing astronauts from space destinations and returning them to Earth via a safe and speedy runway landing.

Sierra Space and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) have signed an agreement to study collaboration on technologies to support a planned commercial space station. The two companies announced a memorandum of understanding regarding collaboration on a “wide range of technologies” that could be used for Orbital Reef, a commercial space station announced last October with Sierra Space as one of the lead partners.

The eXposed Root On-Orbit Test System (XROOTS) investigation uses hydroponic and aeroponic techniques to grow plants without soil or other growth media. Video and still images enable evaluation of multiple independent growth chambers for the entire plant life cycle from seed germination through maturity. Results could identify suitable methods to produce crops on a larger scale for future space missions.
In 2022, announced the successful completion of its $3.0M Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase III Test Readiness Review (TRR) with NASA for its carbothermal reduction technology. The Sierra Space system, developed over multiple contracts with NASA, processes and extracts oxygen from minerals in lunar regolith (soil) for use as astronaut life support and in propellant manufacturing in space. Producing oxygen on the moon is a key component for a sustained presence in space and reduces costs by not having to transport the critical element to space on launch.

Sources


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