In March of 2015, Sierra Nevada Space System announced its formal entry into the running for NASA’s Commercial Resupply Services 2 (CRS-2) contract. The CRS-2 competition, seeking proposals for an unmanned cargo supply carrier servicing the International Space Station, is currently undergoing its second round of bids.
Sierra Nevada will offer a supply carrier-modified Dream Chaser spacecraft, a variant of their submission for the NASA Commercial Crew Program’s “space taxi” contract, decided in 2014. Although Sierra Nevada
lost out to Boeing and SpaceX for the manned spacecraft contract, the company hopes their cargo version will prevail in the new contract. Worth $14 billion USD, the CRS-2 has already received entries from other industrial giants, including Boeing’s cargo-modified CST-100 and Lockheed Martin’s Jupiter/Exoliner system. The contract requires a minimum of four missions per year from 2018 to 2024.
The Dream Chaser Cargo System (DCCS), with a unique shuttlecraft design, is capable of reentry into earth and landing on a runway. For initial launch, the system features foldable wings enabling it to fit inside a conventional Ruag 5-meter rocket nose-fairing enclosure.
The company anticipates launch from an Atlas V rocket by United Launch Alliance (ULA), but may be configurable with other types of rockets, including the Ariane 5 rocket by Airbus, the Delta IV by ULA, the H-IIB/H-III by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, or the Falcon 9 by SpaceX.
Along with increased cargo space (consisting of a pressurized interior cabin and a new unpressurized external module which is discarded in the atmosphere when depleted) and a new system for automated control, this addition of the foldability design element differentiates the cargo version from the crewed Dream Chaser. According to Sierra Nevada, the vehicle will be able to deliver 12,125 pounds of supplies to the International Space Station (ISS) and return with 3,858 pounds. Awards for the CRS-2 contract are expected to be announced in June of 2015.
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