Sierra Nevada and Craig Technologies announce collaboration on Dream Chaser space plane
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla — Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) along with Craig Technologies announced on Thursday, June 12 that Craig would join SNC’s efforts to produce the Dream Chaser® space plane for NASA’s Commercial Crew Program (CCP ). The announcement was made at Craig Technologies’ Aerospace and Defense Manufacturing Center (ADMC) located in Cape Canaveral. Through this effort, Craig Technologies will assist in the design and development of the mini space shuttle by providing needed components for the spacecraft.
On hand during the announcement was Mark Sirangelo, corporate vice president of SNC’s Space Systems and Carol Craig, founder and CEO of Craig Technologies as well as numerous elected officials and representatives from within the aerospace industry. The building in which the announcement of this new partnership was made, the ADMC, was once owned by United Space Alliance. With the end of the space shuttle era, United Space Alliance’s presence along Florida’s Space Coast was reduced and Craig Technologies was one among many small businesses that have stepped in to fill that void.
Craig Technologies has a manufacturing division which has received a non-reimbursable Space Act Agreement from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center to keep some 1,600 pieces of manufacturing and test equipment ready for the task of constructing spacecraft. Many of these elements, an estimated 80 percent, were used on NASA’s retired fleet of space shuttles.
The ADMC encompasses some 161,000 square feet and is the location from which Craig’s team will assist SNC by producing, repairing and maintaining components already detailed under the agreement SNC has with Craig as well as other components on an as-needed basis.
In terms of Dream Chaser, Craig Technologies will provide an array of parts and components for both the Dream Chaser spacecraft as well as other support and service structures. Craig Technologies will assist in the processing and production of Dream Chaser in a number of ways, some of which have yet to be determined. For its part, SNC has tapped numerous companies to assist it in the lead up to the initial flight of the space plane currently slated to take place in November of 2016.
“What we’re going to be doing here in Florida is primarily three main things, we’re going to be getting the vehicle ready to go to space, when we complete our missions we’ll use the Shuttle Landing Facility out at Kennedy Space Center as our primary landing strip and, lastly, once the vehicle has returned, we are going to be getting it ready to go back into space,” Sirangelo said.
SNC’s Dream Chaser spacecraft is planned as being a reusable spacecraft which the Nevada-based firm hopes will provide delivery services of crew and cargo to destinations in low-Earth-orbit, predominantly the International Space Station. Currently Dream Chaser is competing with three other spacecraft under NASA’s Commercial Crew Program (CCP), Boeing’s CST-100, SpaceX’s Dragon V2 spacecraft and Blue Origin’s New Shepard spacecraft.
Whereas some proponents of commercial space efforts have called for a cancellation of NASA’s human space exploration efforts, Sirangelo expressed the view that doing so would not be in the country’s best interest.
“There’s a reason why a million people came to see the last shuttle flight, it was the excitement that such efforts engender. We’re missing that in America right now, we’re missing that spark of inspiration in the space program and the science program. Together, with other programs like the Lockheed Orion (NASA’s next crewed spacecraft) and the SLS program, we feel that the Commercial Crew Program and what we’re doing specifically is important,” Sirangelo said.
Carol Craig founded Craig Technologies in 1999 it is listed as a ISO 9001/AS9100 Certified as well as being ITAR compliant. Today, Craig Technologies employs some 400 people in 20 states across the United States including Florida and Alabama. Craig provides an array of services which include the following: Engineering and technical solutions include Software Design/Development, Systems Engineering, Multidisciplinary Engineering, Training and Courseware Development, Modeling & Simulation, IT Support, and Integrated Logistics Support.
By comparison, SNC is some 30 years old and employs approximately 3,000 and provides products that include the following: Electronics, aerospace, avionics, space, propulsion, micro-satellite, aircraft, communications systems and solar energy. SNC has a footprint in some 16 different states within the U.S. and has a history of supporting space exploration efforts.
“Space is an enabler for our society and Sierra Nevada is very proud to be a part of that enabling,” Sirangelo said. “In our industry we call this relationship a mentor-protégé where companies that have had some degree of success help companies that are trying to emerge within the industry.”
Shortly after the announcement, SpaceFlight Insider sat down with both Sirangelo and Craig about this announcement in particular and the U.S. Space Program as a whole – these exclusive interviews can be viewed below.
Video courtesy of SpaceFlight Insider / Sierra Nevada Corporation
Jason Rhian spent several years honing his skills with internships at NASA, the National Space Society and other organizations. He has provided content for outlets such as: Aviation Week & Space Technology, Space.com, The Mars Society and Universe Today.