Members of NASA’s SpaceX Crew-8 mission may be the first to welcome the commercial spaceplane on its maiden flight to the International Space Station
LOUISVILLE, Colo. – Aug. 4, 2023 – Sierra Space, a leading, pureplay commercial space company building the first end-to-end business and technology platform in space, announced today it hosted its third official training of NASA astronauts to learn the innerworkings of Dream Chaser®, the world’s first commercial spaceplane.
The three astronauts – Mike Barratt, Matt Dominick and Jeanette Epps – are members of the upcoming NASA’s SpaceX Crew-8 mission to the International Space Station, which is currently slated to launch no earlier than February 2024. During their planned six-month stay, Dream Chaser is scheduled to make its maiden voyage to deliver cargo to the ISS as part of NASA’s Commercial Resupply Services-2 (CRS-2) contract.
“We are pleased to train the crew that will be on board the International Space Station for Dream Chaser’s first cargo resupply mission,” said Sierra Space CEO Tom Vice. “These astronauts underwent an extensive training curriculum to prepare them for how to interact with our spaceplane when it berths with the ISS. We are honored to join NASA’s cargo resupply team.”
Company specialists conducted the eight-hour training session, which took place on July 17 at Sierra Space’s Louisville, Colo., facility. The first two parts were classroom training, followed by two parts working inside a full-size mock-up of Dream Chaser:
- Part 1: Dream Chaser Overview – The astronauts received a full briefing on Dream Chaser. Topics covered included systems identification and function, mission profiles (from launch and rendezvous to reentry and landing), crew interfaces and operations (i.e., types of cargo, how to load/unload, etc.). The astronauts ended Part 1 with a much deeper understanding of Dream Chaser’s hardware once it is berthed with the International Space Station.
- Part 2: Rendezvous and Proximity Operations (RPO) – The astronauts learned their required actions as Dream Chaser makes its approach and officially berths with the International Space Station. Topics included a full review of the timeline, profile and procedural operations of the high-level system configuration involved in this critical part of the mission.
- Part 3: Dream Chaser Hardware Familiarization and Scenarios – Moving into a full-size Dream Chaser mock-up, Sierra Space employees walked the astronauts through the vehicle, identifying hardware/systems and teaching how to operate and/or interface with each one. The astronauts also learned vehicle ingress/egress procedures, as well as discussed off-nominal scenarios.
“This is the moment when the ‘wow factor’ really appears on the astronauts’ faces,” said Krista Abler. “It’s one thing to look at drawings or read about Dream Chaser, but to get a real sense of its immense capacity is another ballgame. It’s exciting to watch that fact register with the astronauts as they crawl inside our vehicle.”
- Part 4: Cargo Transfer Scenarios – Astronauts spent the final portion of the training learning safe and proper procedures for installing/removing cargo from Dream Chaser. The astronauts had to use the same procedures and operational tools as they will on orbit. The Sierra Space team made the astronauts work with numerous restraints (i.e., straps, beams, etc.), identify hazards associated with cargo operations and tested the astronauts via scenario drills.
About Sierra Space
Sierra Space is a leading, pureplay commercial space company at the forefront of innovation and the commercialization of space in the Orbital Age™, building an end-to-end business and technology platform in space to benefit life on Earth. With more than 30 years and 500 missions of space flight heritage, the company is enabling the future of space transportation with Dream Chaser® the world’s only commercial spaceplane and is bringing LIFE™ (Large Integrated Flexible Environment) to low-Earth orbit with its modular, three-story commercial habitation and science platform. Both Dream Chaser and LIFE are central components to Orbital Reef, a mixed-use business park in LEO being developed by principal partners Sierra Space and Blue Origin, which is expected to be operational by the end of the decade. Sierra Space also builds and delivers a host of systems and subsystems across solar power, mechanics and motion control, environmental control, life support, propulsion and thermal control, offering myriad space-as-a-service solutions for the new space economy.
Griffin Communications Group