Press Release

Sierra Nevada Corporation Successfully Tests Critical Dream Chaser Spacecraft Propulsion System Completes CCiCap Milestone 15a

By SpaceRef Editor
December 2, 2014
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Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) announces the successful completion of a major milestone relating to the Reaction Control System (RCS) propulsion risk reduction for the Dream Chaser® Space System, known as Milestone 15a. The achievement further matures the design toward Critical Design Review (CDR) and positions SNC one step closer to concluding all milestones laid out in NASA’s Commercial Crew Integrated Capability (CCiCap) agreement. To date, SNC has received 96 percent of the total award value of the CCiCap agreement, having successfully completed 12 of 13 milestones.

Milestone 15a builds on SNC’s previous propulsion system innovation and development maturity by implementing a compact prototype thruster operating in a vacuum chamber to simulate an on-orbit environment. The RCS, which is being designed and tested by SNC’s wholly-owned subsidiary, Orbital Technologies Corporation (ORBITEC), provides precise on-orbit control of the Dream Chaser spacecraft for many critical maneuvers including docking of the Dream Chaser spacecraft to destinations in low-Earth orbit. The RCS also supports the unique capability of the Dream Chaser to safely return from orbit and land on any designated runway.

“Safety is paramount in the design of the Dream Chaser Space System,” said Mark N. Sirangelo, corporate vice president of SNC’s Space Systems. “It is driven by reliability, rigorous quality assurance, consistent performance, extensive testing, and robust analysis. In passing this milestone, we are able to validate our performance and safety, while decreasing the risk for this critical propulsion system. Reaching this milestone propels us even closer toward the Critical Design Review and orbital flight of our complete system.”

On August 19, 2013, SNC and NASA amended their original CCiCap Space Act Agreement to add Milestones 15a. The optional milestone provided critical hardware demonstration of the RCS technology to support crewed or uncrewed missions of the Dream Chaser Space System architecture.

SNC’s Dream Chaser is a multi-mission-capable space utility vehicle that is able to operate as an independent science platform, logistics enabler, or orbital servicing vehicle with the ability to retrieve, repair, replace, assemble or deploy items in space. Dream Chaser provides the only reusable, human-rated, lifting-body spacecraft with a commercial runway landing capability, anywhere in the world – offering safe, affordable, flexible and reliable transportation to space.

About Sierra Nevada Corporation
Sierra Nevada Corporation’s Space Systems business area based in Louisville, Colorado, designs and manufactures advanced spacecraft, space vehicles, rocket motors and spacecraft subsystems and components for the U.S. Government, commercial customers, as well as for the international market. SNC’s Space Systems has more than 25 years of space heritage and has participated in over 400 successful space missions through the delivery of over 4,000 systems, subsystems and components. During its history, SNC’s Space Systems has concluded over 70 programs for NASA and over 50 other clients. For more information about SNC’s Space Systems visit and follow us at and Twitter @SNCspacesystems.

SpaceRef staff editor.