Press Release

SNC’s Hybrid Rocket Technology Once Again Powers The World’s First Commercial Space Tourism Vehicle

By SpaceRef Editor
September 5, 2013
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Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) congratulates Virgin Galactic on another successful piloted test flight of SpaceShipTwo (SS2) and is proud to announce that its hybrid rocket engines have once again powered the suborbital vehicle. Today’s test at Mojave Air and Space Port, Calif., marks the second time SNC’s hybrid rocket technology has safely powered SS2 to new flight test milestones. SNC’s hybrid rocket propulsion system is the largest hybrid ever used for space vehicle propulsion and also propelled SpaceShipOne to win the Ansari X Prize.

During today’s test, upon reaching an altitude of 46,000 feet, the SS2 spacecraft was released from the carrier aircraft WhiteKnightTwo. The pilots of SS2 then triggered ignition of the SNC hybrid rocket motor propelling SS2 to a maximum altitude of 69,000 feet, achieving Mach 1.4 in 20 seconds, all as planned.

“Today’s test has once again proven the safety and reliability of our hybrid rocket engine technology,” said Mark Sirangelo, corporate vice president and head of SNC’s Space Systems. “We have now supported two successful crewed flight tests for Virgin Galactic and look forward to continuing to improve this technology, not only for SS2 but also for our own Dream Chaser® spacecraft. SNC is proud to be the leader in the design and development of these safe, non-toxic hybrid propulsion systems that will transport people to suborbital and orbital destinations.”

SNC developed the hybrid engine technology that powered SpaceShipOne, SpaceShipTwo and will power Dream Chaser. In addition, SNC also manufactures major subsystems on the SS2 vehicle including the main oxidizer valve and the nitrous oxide release and control systems. The manufacturing of these motors are completed at SNC’s Poway, Calif., location.

On April 29, 2013 SNC’s hybrid rocket engine powered SpaceShipTwo on its inaugural powered flight. During the 16 second burn, SS2 reached a maximum altitude of 55,000 feet and speed of Mach 1.2

SNC’s hybrid rocket systems offer a safe, high performing, and non-toxic alternative to solid and hydrazine liquid propulsion systems. The rocket motor fuel is comprised of industrial rubber, requiring no special handling or transportation, thereby greatly increasing safety while reducing lifecycle cost to SNC’s customers.

About Sierra Nevada Corporation’s Space Systems

Sierra Nevada Corporation’s Space Systems business area based in Louisville, Colo., designs and manufactures advanced spacecraft, space vehicles, rocket motors and spacecraft subsystems and components for the US Government, commercial customers as well as for the international market. SNC’s Space Systems has more than 25 years of space heritage in space 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 on Facebook at Sierra Nevada Corporation Space Systems.

Media Contact: or Krystal Scordo at 720-407-3192.

About Sierra Nevada Corporation

Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC), headquartered in Sparks, Nev., is one of America’s fastest growing private companies based on its significant expansion and reputation for rapid, innovative, and agile technology solutions in electronics, aerospace, avionics, space, propulsion, micro-satellite, aircraft, communications systems and solar energy. Under the leadership of CEO Fatih Ozmen and President Eren Ozmen, SNC employs over 2,500 people in 30 locations in 16 states. SNC’s six unique business areas are dedicated to providing leading-edge solutions to SNC’s dynamic customer base.

SNC is also the Top Woman-Owned Federal Contractor in the United States. Over the last 30 years under the Ozmen’s leadership, SNC has remained focused on providing its customers the very best in diversified technologies to meet their needs and has a strong and proven track record of success. The company continues to focus its growth on the commercial sector through internal advancements and outside acquisitions, including the emerging markets of renewable energy, telemedicine, nanotechnology, cyber and net-centric operations. For more information on SNC visit and follow us on Facebook at Sierra Nevada Corporation.

Media Contact: or Julie Ardito at 775-849-6968.

SpaceRef staff editor.