Spaceflight Insider

Aerojet Rocketdyne chosen to supply Dream Chaser’s power

An artist's rendering of Sierra Nevada's Dream Chaser vehicle docked with ISS. Aerojet Rocketdyne will design and build the power system for the cargo ship. Image Credit: SNC

An artist’s rendering of Sierra Nevada’s Dream Chaser vehicle docked with ISS. Aerojet Rocketdyne will design and build the power system for the cargo ship. Image Credit: SNC

Aerojet Rocketdyne has been selected to supply the electrical power distribution system for Sierra Nevada Corporation’s (SNC) Dream Chaser spacecraft. The company will be responsible for designing, developing, manufacturing, and testing the system, followed by integration into the reusable spacecraft’s power network.

“Aerojet Rocketdyne is honored to supply a critical power management system for a spacecraft that will deliver supplies to astronauts living and working onboard the space station,” said Aerojet Rocketdyne CEO and President Eileen Drake in a news release. “We have been instrumental in efficiently and effectively managing power on the station for decades. We look forward to building upon that experience with Sierra Nevada Corporation, and developing future power systems for use on commercial missions, as well as NASA exploration programs and in-space transportation.”

The system from Aerojet Rocketdyne must be capable of efficiently, and reliably, distribute power from the Dream Chaser’s solar arrays to the spacecraft’s various systems, such as avionics and propulsion. Additionally, power must be supplied to any onboard payloads.

As the ship will spend a significant portion of its on-orbit mission in shadow, the craft must be capable of storing – and delivering – power generated from the solar panels via onboard rechargeable batteries so mission tasks can continue when the craft is in orbital darkness.

“The capacity of the rechargeable batteries will allow Dream Chaser to increase its free-flight time in space, as well as support the spacecraft’s cargo delivery and return journey back to Earth,” said Julie Van Kleeck, vice president of Advanced Space and Launch at Aerojet Rocketdyne.

In January 2016, NASA selected SNC, as part of its Commercial Resupply Services-2 program, to deliver cargo and supplies to the International Space Station via the uncrewed cargo variant of SNC’s Dream Chaser vehicle. Similar in appearance to the now-retired Space Shuttle, Dream Chaser draws on decades of reusable spacecraft experience.

The company is expected to complete at least six delivery missions to and from ISS through 2024. Aerojet Rocketdyne’s power distribution system will be integral to each of those missions.

“We are proud to be able to provide a low-cost solution for the commercial spacecraft’s electrical power system,” Kleeck said.

Video courtesy of SNC Space Systems


Curt Godwin has been a fan of space exploration for as long as he can remember, keeping his eyes to the skies from an early age. Initially majoring in Nuclear Engineering, Curt later decided that computers would be a more interesting - and safer - career field. He's worked in education technology for more than 20 years, and has been published in industry and peer journals, and is a respected authority on wireless network engineering. Throughout this period of his life, he maintained his love for all things space and has written about his experiences at a variety of NASA events, both on his personal blog and as a freelance media representative.

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