Grit and dedication are two trademarks of Sierra Space. Our people are working tirelessly to bring the Dream Chaser® spaceplane to life. In fact, that is why we chose “Tenacity” as the name of the first Dream Chaser. Excitement about this spaceplane feels electric whenever you walk onto the production floor. You can even hear it in the voices of our team as they describe what Tenacity means to them.
And now, two astronauts from NASA and JAXA experienced that excitement too, and helped us move incrementally closer to the dawn of the Orbital Age™.
On March 7, Sierra Space hosted its first-ever Dream Chaser astronaut training for two members from the upcoming SpaceX Crew-7 mission to the International Space Station (ISS). Crew-7 might be the team onboard the ISS when Dream Chaser berths with the station for the first time.
Jasmin Moghbeli (NASA) and Satoshi Furukawa (JAXA) spent a day at our facilities learning the inner workings of the world’s first commercial spaceplane. Moghbeli, Spacecraft Commander for Crew-7, joined NASA in 2017 after a distinguished career in the Marine Corps, where she flew 150 combat missions and later became a test pilot. Furukawa, Mission Specialist for Crew-7, is no stranger to low-Earth orbit having spent time aboard the ISS on previous missions with his expertise as a medical doctor
Led by Senior Director, Operations Klint Combs, Moghbeli and Furukawa’s visit began with in-person training on Dream Chaser Tenacity and its Shooting Star cargo module. They got a firsthand look at the impressive new machines that will ferry all the items needed to keep them comfortable at their temporary home aboard the ISS.
Senior Systems Engineer Paul Uranga gave a full overview of Dream Chaser, covering topics such as systems identification and function, mission profiles, crew interfaces and operations. By the end, the astronauts walked away with a full understanding of the hardware they will encounter on Dream Chaser once it berths with the ISS.
Moghbeli and Furukawa then met Senior Systems Engineer Sadie Holbert, who will play a critical role in their lives. She oversees rendezvous and proximity operations, ensuring Dream Chaser Tenacity and the ISS work in perfect harmony. She guided the astronauts through the timeline, profile and procedural operations of the high-level system configuration involved in this pivotal part of the mission.
After a morning on the production floor, Moghbeli and Furukawa spent the bulk of the day in a full-size mock-up of Dream Chaser undergoing hatch and cargo module training. The astronauts worked with Senior Systems Engineer Krista Abler and Systems Engineer II Ben Wexler who identified all the hardware and systems, teaching the astronauts how to operate and/or interface with each one. The astronauts also learned how to enter and exit the vehicle and discussed off-nominal scenarios.
During the final portion of training, the astronauts learned how to properly and safely install/remove cargo from Dream Chaser, using the same procedures and operational tools as they will on orbit. They practiced with numerous restraints (i.e., straps, beams, etc.), identified hazards associated with cargo operations, and ran scenario drills.
In true astronaut form, Moghbeli and Furukawa covered much ground in a short amount of time. While their mission will not launch until later this year, this vital training left them and the Sierra Space team pleased about what the future holds for Dream Chaser Tenacity and inches us even closer to making the Orbital Age a reality.