SNC works with U.N. on global space program

Image: Dream Chaser
An artist’s conception shows Sierra Nevada’s uncrewed version of the Dream Chaser space glider in orbit with a cargo module attached at the back. (Credit: Sierra Nevada Corporation)

Sierra Nevada Corp. says it’s working with the U.N. Office for Outer Space Affairs on an arrangement that would give countries around the world the opportunity to fly payloads into orbit and back on the company’s Dream Chaser space plane.

“Beyond the commerce, this represents the global reason and the holistic reason why space is important to us,” Mark Sirangelo, corporate vice president for SNC’s Space Systems business area, told GeekWire today.

A memorandum of understanding with the U.N. office, known by the acronym UNOOSA, was signed last week, Sirangelo said. The pact is meant to lead to a detailed agreement under which UNOOSA and SNC would facilitate affordable access to space for U.N. member states.

SNC is currently developing an uncrewed cargo version of the Dream Chaser, whichNASA could use to transfer cargo to and from the International Space Stationstarting as early as 2019. For those resupply flights, the winged spaceship would be launched into low Earth orbit atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket, and brought back down to a runway landing at the end of each mission.

At last week’s NewSpace 2016 conference in Seattle, Sirangelo said a Dream Chaser prototype was on track to be delivered to NASA for atmospheric testing in August.

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By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributing editor at GeekWire, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing. Check out "About Alan Boyle" for more fun facts.

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