Sierra Nevada Corporation
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Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) is an American privately held electronic systems provider and systems integrator specializing in microsatellites, telemedicine, and commercial orbital transportation services. Sierra Nevada Corporation operates under the leadership of Chief Executive Officer, Fatih Ozmen and President, Eren Ozmen. The company contracts with the United States Armed Forces, NASA and private spaceflight companies. It is headquartered in Sparks, Nevada.
SNC supports business areas, subsidiaries and affiliates with nearly 3,000 personnel at 34 locations in 19 U.S. states, England, Germany and Turkey.
The company was founded in 1963 by John Chisholm. It started as a small business with a few employees, working out of an airplane hangar in Stead, Nevada. It was acquired in 1994 by husband and wife Fatih Ozmen and Eren Ozmen. Fatih Ozmen was one of the original employees hired by Chisholm in 1981.
SNC's Space Systems (previously SpaceDev)
Dream Chaser Manned Spacecraft
On February 1, 2010, Sierra Nevada Corporation was awarded $20 million in seed money in phase 1 of NASA’s Commercial Crew Development (CCDev) program for the development of the Dream Chaser. Of the $50 million awarded in the phase 1 CCDev program, Dream Chaser's award represents the largest share of the funds.
On August 3, 2012, NASA announced new agreements with the Sierra Nevada Corporation and two other companies to design and develop the next generation of U.S. human spaceflight capabilities, enabling a launch of astronauts from U.S. soil in the next five years. Advances made by these companies under newly signed Space Act Agreements through the agency's Commercial Crew Integrated Capability (CCiCap) initiative are intended to ultimately lead to the availability of commercial human spaceflight services for government and commercial customers. As part of this agreement, Sierra Nevada Corporation was awarded $212.5 million, ostensibly to continue development and testing of its Dream Chaser spacecraft. The Dream Chaser is a revival of NASA's HL-20 Personnel Launch System lifting-body design.
On July 24, 2014, Sierra Nevada Corporation signed a letter of cooperation with Tuskegee University to collaborate on efforts related to SNC’s Dream Chaser.
On August 1, 2014, Lockheed Martin and Sierra Nevada Corporation unveiled the composite airframe of the Dream Chaser which will be used to conduct the first orbital launch in 2016.
Internally the Dream Chaser program team is frequently referred to as the “Dream Team.” The team includes well-known aerospace industry partners such as Lockheed Martin and United Launch Alliance, NASA centers and universities across the United States, small businesses such as Craig Technologies, as well as the European, German and Japanese.
On September 16, 2014, Sierra Nevada Corporation lost the CCtCap contract to SpaceX and Boeing, which were chosen by NASA as the two companies that will be funded to develop systems to transport U.S. crews to and from the space station. Boeing won $4.2B and SpaceX won $2.6B to complete and certify their spacecraft by 2017. NASA deemed SNC's proposal as less mature than the others. In the selection statement, Bill Gerstenmaier, head of NASA’s human exploration and operations directorate, explained the decision by stating that “a winged spacecraft is a more complex design and thus entails more developmental and certification challenges, and therefore may have more technical and schedule risk than expected,” and "I consider SNC's design to be at the lowest level of maturity, with significantly more technical work and critical design decisions to accomplish. [...] SNC's proposal also has more schedule uncertainty."
Two weeks after losing the Commercial Crew Transportation Capability (CCtCap) competition to SpaceX and Boeing on September 16, 2014, Sierra Nevada Corporation announced it has designed a launch system that combines a scale version of the company’s Dream Chaser space plane with the Stratolaunch Systems air launch system. Earlier the same week, Sierra Nevada introduced the Dream Chaser Global Project, which would provide customized access to low Earth orbit to global customers.
On November 5, 2014 during the Space Traffic Management Conference at Embry–Riddle Aeronautical University, SNC's Space Systems team presented the challenges and opportunities related to landing the Dream Chaser spacecraft at public-use airports. According to the presentation, "Unlike the Space Shuttle, the Dream Chaser does not require any unique landing aids or specialized equipment as it uses all non-toxic propellants and industry standard subsystems."
Despite not being selected to continue forward under NASA’s Commercial Crew transportation Capability (CCtCap) phase of the effort to send crews to orbit via private companies, SNC is still completing milestones under earlier phases of the CCP. On December 2, 2014 SNC announced that it completed NASA’s CCiCap Milestone 5a related to propulsion risk reduction for the Dream Chaser space system.
On January 14, 2016, SNC was awarded by NASA, within the framework of Commercial Resupply Services, and along with SpaceX and Orbital ATK, a second round (CRS-2) contract for resupply to the International Space Station between 2019 and 2024, guaranteeing a minimum of six launches. SNC will use United Launch Alliance's Atlas V rocket as a launch vehicle.
SNC was the prime contractor on RocketMotorTwo for Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo, and designed the rocket engine for Scaled Composites, including the one for SpaceshipOne.Space.com, On April 29, 2013 SpaceShipTwo completed its first powered flight test using RocketMotorTwo.
After losing the bid for NASA commercial crew, Sierra Nevada reduced staff working on RocketMotorTwo in September 2014. In late November, SNC announced the permanent closure of their Poway, California propulsion development facility as they intend to consolidate all propulsion activity in one location, at the facilities of Orbital Technologies Corp.
As announced on Tuesday, October 14, 2014, the United States Department of Defense awarded Sierra Nevada Corporation’s Space Systems with a contract to develop and build a next-generation science and technology demonstration satellite, known as STPSat-5, for their Space Test Program.
Key Capabilities, Products & Contracts
On January 2, 2015, SNC announced that the United States Army awarded a $17 million follow-on Low Rate Initial Production contract to manufacture Mobile Tower Systems (MOTS), replacing the Army’s aging AN/TSW-7A air traffic control (ATC) towers.