Firm Targets Brevard For Spacecraft Construction

By  //  November 22, 2012

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Future is now

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BREVARD COUNTY • CAPE CANAVERAL, FLORIDA – A Colorado company is stepping up plans to build a new manned spacecraft here in Brevard County.  

The Sierra Nevada company is stepping upm ploans to build its reusable space plane here. (Image courtesy of NASA)

The Sierra Nevada firm is developing a small-winged vehicle called “Dream Chaser” that can carry up to seven astronauts, or a mix of crew and cargo, to and from the international space station.

The company has been awarded $125 million from NASA for design and development work on a reusable space plane and has received about half of the money so far.

According to Space News, Sierra Nevada has applied for economic and tax incentive packages to expand its presence in Florida, Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll said.

The company employs about 300 people in Florida on other programs and currently has more than 2,200 people in 16 states.

NASA has $406 million to spend this year and hopes to award multiple 21-month contracts this summer worth between $300 million and $500 million for integrated design work.

Vying For NASA Funding

It is among several firms vying for NASA’s next round of funding for the Commercial Crew Development program.

The agency has $406 million to spend this year and hopes to award multiple 21-month contracts this summer worth between $300 million and $500 million for integrated design work.

If selected, Sierra Nevada plans to base its fleet of three to five spaceships at a still-to-be-determined facility at Kennedy Space Center or Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

Mark Sirangelo is executive vice president of Sierra Nevada’s Space Systems Group. (Image courtesy of NASA)

“The goal that we have here is really quite simple — we want to take the ‘Help Wanted’ signs out of the windows in Russia and bring it back here,” said Mark Sirangelo, executive vice president of Sierra Nevada’s Space Systems Group.

Former space shuttle workers are being recruited to process, launch and service the vehicles, which would take off aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket and land on the Shuttle Launch Facility runway.

“This is not a paper program. We are well into the manufacturing and starting to test,” Sirangelo said.

He said the Dream Chaser combines years of NASA analysis and wind tunnel research with Sierra Nevada’s engineering into a fully-reusable spacecraft to transport humans to low Earth orbit and then return them to Earth with a runway landing.

A lifting body spacecraft design offers increased cross range and lower g forces on entry than a capsule design, providing more landing opportunities and a more benign entry environment for crew and science experiment return.


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