Sierra Space Selects Japanese Passive Docking System for its Commercial Space Station Design

Sierra Space Dream Chaser DC100 and LIFE 285

LOUISVILLE, Colo. – May 30, 2024  Sierra Space, a leading commercial space company and emerging defense tech prime building a platform in space to benefit and protect life on Earth, announced today its collaboration with Japan-based partners on a cutting-edge passive docking system, or PDS, that will be integrated into the company’s new commercial space station platform. The system is being developed jointly by IHI Aerospace Co., Ltd., a principal contributor to Japan’s space engineering expertise, and Kanematsu Corporation, a global trading powerhouse.

The new PDS system – an integral element facilitating secure and efficient spacecraft docking including with Sierra Space’s Dream Chaser® spaceplane – will be developed in accordance with the International Docking System Standard (IDSS). IHI Aerospace’s solution is designed to offer simplicity, versatility and utmost reliability in space docking operations.

“Our mission at Sierra Space is to create a platform in space to benefit life on Earth. In realizing that vision, safety is paramount in everything we do in commercial space station design and development,” said Steve Berroth, Senior Vice President and General Manager of EarthSpace™ Systems at Sierra Space. “IHI Aerospace shares this dedication, and we are confident that their passive docking system represents the safest, most reliable technology to be adopted into our platform.”

Having successfully completed the preliminary design review, the companies are poised to progress towards the critical design phase. Since 2021, IHI Aerospace has collaborated with the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency on an IDSS-compliant active docking system. The convergence of active and passive docking technologies is anticipated to play a pivotal role not only in Low Earth Orbit (LEO) endeavors but also in supporting space exploration initiatives such as the Artemis program.

Kazumasa Goto, Board Director at IHI Aerospace said, “We are very pleased that our passive docking system, which is being developed based on the mechanical system technology and heritage we have cultivated on the International Space Station and H-II Transfer Vehicle “KOUNOTORI,” has been adopted by Sierra Space for their space station platform. We believe this will also contribute to the future of benefit to humankind on the earth through our technology as a part of future commercial space stations.”

Ryoichi Kidokoro, Senior Executive Officer of Kanematsu and COO of the Motor Vehicles & Aerospace Division added, ”We are delighted that the passive docking system manufactured by IHI Aerospace has been selected by Sierra Space, one of the leading space companies in the United States. Through this collaboration, we would like to accelerate to support on the export of Japanese manufacturers. We will continue our efforts to gain international recognition and trust for the superiority and high quality of space technology that Japanese companies have established so far, leading to the expansion of commercial space activities and the establishment of international cooperative relationships.”


About Sierra Space

Sierra Space is a leading 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 reinventing both space transportation with Dream Chaser®, the world’s only commercial spaceplane, and the future of space destinations with the company’s inflatable and expandable space station technology. Highly scalable and flexible, this innovative “softgoods” technology will define a new generation of space stations. 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.


About IHI Aerospace

IHI Aerospace has contributed significantly to Japan’s space program, particularly in the field of space transportation. IHI Aerospace has also achieved outstanding results in the development of rockets and recovery systems for material experiments, and in the development of systems and equipment for use in space environments and experiments. With the wealth of technological expertise it has developed over the years, IHI Aerospace will further enhance its research and development activities in preparation for the coming era of space applications represented by the space station, and will also boldly take up the challenge of new fields such as FRP components for jet engines and robot systems, thereby contributing to the realization of human dreams and the development of society.


About Kanematsu

Kanematsu Corporation, a major Japanese trading company having 130 years of history, is headquartered in Tokyo, Japan. By multiplying our business networks in Japan and overseas with our vast experience in general trading, information-gathering, market cultivation, business incubation and project-forming & management, risk management, and logistics, Kanematsu is committed to creating new businesses with Sierra Space as a Value Creator. Kanematsu is involved in a wide range of businesses through its four segments: Motor Vehicles & Aerospace, Electronics & Devices, Steel, Materials & Plant, and Foods, Meat & Grain. In the aerospace area, we are proactively expanding our businesses areas, such as commercial and government space programs, defense programs, eVTOL, UAV, helicopter, fixed-wing, engine, and so on.




Alex Walker, Sierra Space
(303) 803-2297 |

Subscribe to Updates

"*" indicates required fields