Sierra Nevada Corporation’s (SNC) Dream Chaser winged spacecraft could be soon flying under a United Nations (UN) agenda. On Tuesday, June 28, the Sparks, Nevada-based company announced that it has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) to provide affordable opportunities for UN member states in order to conduct experiments in space.
Under the agreement, SNC committed to dedicating one or more Dream Chaser missions that will host payloads from member countries. The cooperation will focus on developing an interface control document and payload hosting guide to allow payloads developed by participating countries, especially non-space-faring ones, to be flown into orbit.
"At UNOOSA we are committed to helping all countries benefit from space technologies and capabilities. I am pleased that SNC has partnered with us to provide such tangible opportunities in pursuit of this goal," said Simonetta Di Pippo, Director of UNOOSA.
The Dream Chaser spacecraft will allow the countries worldwide to conduct various experiments, especially in microgravity science, remote sensing, or space hardware qualification. Both sides of the agreement believe that by providing this space program, countries will benefit from social, economic and educational opportunities.
"SNC is honored to partner with UNOOSA under our Dream Chaser Global Initiative to offer access to space to a wide range of countries, from those with well-defined space programs and objectives, to developing countries who would like the social and economic benefits of a space program without the time and financial burden of developing the necessary infrastructure," said Mark N. Sirangelo, corporate vice president for SNC’s Space Systems business area.
He added that the company’s offer would be flexible and adapted to each member state, depending on the maturity of space capabilities of a particular country. It would a comprehensive help, providing not only the spacecraft and hardware, but also “all aspects of flight including mission planning and operations,” he noted.
UNOOSA underlined that the MoU signed with SNC is a first important step towards providing more countries the opportunity to realize the economic and educational benefits of participating in the space economy.
Dream Chaser is a 30-feet (9-meters) long, reusable, orbital spacecraft resembling a mini Space Shuttle. It is designed to be a flexible Space Utility Vehicle (SUV) and transportation system for a variety of low-Earth orbit (LEO) missions. The vehicle is designed, manufactured, owned and operated by SNC’s Space Systems division based in Louisville, Colorado.
According to SNC, the spaceplane is capable of delivering up to 5.5 metric tons of pressurized and unpressurized cargo to the International Space Station (ISS) with the ability to conduct orbital disposal services and responsively return pressurized cargo to a gentle runway landing.
The spacecraft was recently selected to provide cargo delivery, return and disposal services for the ISS under NASA’s Commercial Resupply Services 2 (CRS2) contract.