Sierra Nevada Corporation And Houston Airport System Announce New Agreement

Conceptualized image of SNC’s Dream Chaser® spacecraft landing on the runway at Houston’s Ellington Field. Image Source: Sierra Nevada Corp.

Conceptualized image of SNC’s Dream Chaser® spacecraft landing on the runway at Houston’s Ellington Field. Image Source: Sierra Nevada Corp.

March 24, 2015 – Sierra Nevada Corporation’s (SNC) Space Systems and the Houston Airport System (HAS) announce a new follow-on agreement to utilize Ellington Airport’s Spaceport as a future landing site for SNC’s Uncrewed Dream Chaser spacecraft – SNC’s solution for NASA’s Cargo Resupply needs and other critical space operations.

“Entering into this new agreement with HAS will lead to enabling all variants of the Dream Chaser spacecraft to land in Houston, offering the ability to return cargo and science to Houston directly from space,” said Mark Sirangelo, corporate vice president of SNC’s Space Systems. “Through this agreement, we want to promote broad awareness of the importance of utilizing low-Earth orbit as a source of research, science and the expansion of space flight that are critical to Houston’s ongoing position as a Space City.”

The objectives of this new agreement include exploring the applications and opportunities between HAS and SNC utilizing the Uncrewed Dream Chaser spacecraft to serve the needs of government, science, research, consumer and commercial enterprise while also building awareness of the positive economic impact of the Ellington Airport/Spaceport to the state of Texas. The new agreement is in anticipation of HAS receiving its spaceport license approval for Ellington Airport.

“The Houston Airport System is pleased to continue working with Sierra Nevada Corporation as a landing site for their Dream Chaser spacecraft,” said Arturo Machuca, general manager, Ellington Airport. “As we move into the final phase of receiving our spaceport license it is important that HAS work with private industry to ensure the sustainability of the Houston Spaceport.”

The Dream Chaser Cargo System is an autonomous system developed to provide cargo transportation services to the International Space Station (ISS). The Dream Chaser Cargo Systems is a mission variant of the Dream Chaser Space System that exceeds NASA’s goals for cargo transportation to the ISS, including rapid return of critical science.

“The Dream Chaser spacecraft, with its unique horizontal runway landing capability, low-g entry and use of non-toxic propulsion, makes it an ideal test bed for biomedical, pharmaceutical, cellular and genetic research payloads,” said Machuca. “Houston, a leader in space-based biomedical research, is eager to work with SNC to sustain and advance these research opportunities in low-Earth orbit, then gently return them directly to Houston for immediate unloading.”

In April of last year, SNC and the Houston Airport System announced plans to explore potential applications and multiple economic development opportunities presented by the combination of a Houston-based space port and SNC’s Dream Chaser crewed variant – a spacecraft that can land at the space port directly from low-Earth orbit.

Sierra Nevada Corporation’s Space Systems business is based in Louisville, Colorado and is working with NASA to develop a safe, innovative, modern, flexible and highly-capable crew transportation system for the 21st Century. Dream Chaser is a multi-mission capable spacecraft which has the ability to work as an independent science platform, or as a logistics vehicle to retrieve, move, assemble or deploy items in space.