Sierra Nevada Corp Signs MOU to Study European Dream Chaser Variant
[Via Satellite 10-14-2016] Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) has entered a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the European Space Agency (ESA) and European partners Telespazio of Italy and OHB System AG of Germany to initiate the pilot phase of the Dream Chaser for European Utilization (DC4EU) program. The team of four will now assess the feasibility and commercial viability of the DC4EU dedicated mission to provide affordable, independent European access to Low Earth Orbit (LEO) via the Dream Chaser Space Utility Vehicle (SUV).
“DC4EU could represent a valuable platform to enable independent European access to LEO through a ‘customized’ European variant of the Dream Chaser spacecraft. We are willing to explore the potential of such a promising solution. That could be a major element for the setting up of the future European LEO service missions ecosystem,” said Giuseppe Aridon, VP of strategy and marketing at Telespazio.
ESA chose the DC4EU mission as one of eight out of 60 proposals to begin a pilot phase implementation in 2016. According to the companies involved, DC4EU would have compatibility with the future Ariane 6 launch vehicle and the ability to land on suitable runways for near-immediate payload access. The objective of the pilot phase is to demonstrate the technical and programmatic feasibility of DC4EU, which includes the preparation of a business plan highlighting the partnership viability for both private and public interests.
“Commercial partnerships are a new element of the ESA Space Exploration Program. They open up space exploration for private-sector-led initiatives and offer exciting opportunities for advancing the implementation of the ESA strategic goals for space exploration in novel ways, and for enlarging the stakeholder community actively engaged in exploring space,” said David Parker, ESA director for human spaceflight and robotic exploration.
SNC has a contract with NASA to provide cargo services to and from the International Space Station (ISS) under the Commercial Resupply Services 2 (CRS2) contract. Along with cargo missions, Dream Chaser has potential for a variety of LEO space missions including in-orbit servicing.