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Space Technologies & Subsystems

Precision Systems

Leaving No Margin for Error

Exact and Reliable
The Sierra Difference


Docking & Berthing Systems

Our technology captured and docked two spacecraft together on-orbit for the Orbital Express program. Proprietary advancements allowed for remote servicing, such as refueling and replacement of outdated and expended components. We have now leveraged the mechanical systems experience, becoming the go-to supplier for the industry standard Passive Common Berthing Mechanism (PCBM). This is required for spacecraft such as the Orbital Cygnus Advanced Maneuvering Vehicle and the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module to berth with the International Space Station.

Spacecraft Deployable Systems

While many spacecrafts are decreasing in size, physics will maintain the demand for large aperture subsystems. As a result, we consider deployable structures to be a critical element in the future of microsatellite systems. Our Jackscrew boom system utilizes high-strength, high-stiffness articulated truss elements to ensure low-risk linear deployment. The structure and deployment system are readily integrated into mass and volume efficient super structures for planar arrays. Meanwhile, our K-Truss booms are engineered with a strain-energy deployment system that reduces cost and is constructed with a non-conductive material enabling antenna integration.

Electrical Power Systems

We provide low-cost, highly scalable power systems with ranges from 10 Watts to 10 kilowatts. End-to-end electric power solutions consist of fully assembled and tested solar arrays, solar array drives, slip rings, hinges, hold-down mechanisms, and motor control electronics. Using state-of-the art tools and integration equipment, our engineering teams have the expertise and experience to define, analyze, and test complete solar array systems. We have custom designs ranging from 28 to 125 Volts, with power from 750 to 3000 Watts. Our scalable power systems can be tailored to fit a wide variety of mission options with reduced cost and risk by incorporating existing qualified and flight-proven designs.

Launch Adapters & Separation Systems

We have supported both U.S. and international launch services for decades with a variety of technologies needed for reliable and gentle payload and spacecraft deployment into proper orbit. Devices such as the low-shock Clamp Band Opening Devices (CBODs) are now used to release dozens of primary payloads each year on nearly every major launch vehicle. Other products such as our Fast Acting Shock-less Separation Nuts (FASSNs) have become the go-to method for safely restraining and releasing the cargo pallet on H2 Transfer Vehicles to assist in delivering critical equipment and supplies to the International Space Station. We also offer larger structural systems such as our own Dream Chaser® spaceplane Launch Vehicle Integration System as well as dispensers, adapters and integration services required for carrying both single and multiple spacecraft onward to their mission in space.

Thermal Control Systems

We have extensive experience in spacecraft thermal control. Currently, our portfolio includes thermal louvers drawing from decades of NASA/JPL heritage. These currently support several interplanetary spacecraft and heat switches, which for years reliably controlled the main battery temperature on the Mars exploration rovers Spirit and Opportunity. Both technologies are considered passive approaches, requiring no externally supplied power to operate, allowing valuable spacecraft power to be reserved for other needs.

Flight Control & Thrust Vector Control Systems

Flight Control Systems (FCS) and Thrust Vector Control (TVC) Systems leverage our extensive experience in space-qualified actuator and electronics design. The Dream Chaser® spaceplane’s electro-mechanical TVC and Flight Control Systems were designed in-house under very demanding requirements leveraging spaceflight-proven hardware and engineering methods. Our TVC Systems are designed to meet complete vehicle control requirements with highly scalable actuators and electronics, thus minimizing cost and scheduling. In addition to entire TVC systems, our TVC actuators can be used as a cost-effective and reliable replacement for existing TVC system actuators.

Mechanical & Structural Systems

Since 1987, our space technologies group has flown thousands of mechanisms on hundreds of space missions. One of our very first products, the High-Output Paraffin Actuator (HOPA) has become an industry standard for the gentle, low-shock release of critical spacecraft applications such as solar arrays, antennas, and payloads. Over the years, we have been able to leverage technologies like the HOPA into larger subsystem offerings such as custom Instrument Covers and Optical Barrel Assemblies.

Pointing & Motion Control Systems

Sierra Space Corporation develops several single- and dual-axis pointing systems for spaceflight tracking, navigation, and positioning functions for antennae, solar array drives/mechanisms, optical telescopes, and instrument mechanisms.

Our pointing systems are qualified and flight-proven with NASA programs, commercial and military satellites, and the ISS. Although we specialize in custom-engineered, open- and closed-loop solutions, our list of qualified motors, actuators, gimbals, and drive electronics has grown into a substantial portfolio capable of supporting a wide range of applications and sizes with minimal non-recurring effort required.

Sierra Space is an industry leader
in precision, low-disturbance pointing systems for space applications

Surface Mount Technology (SMT)

Sierra Space’s Surface Mount Technology (SMT) solar array is a game-changing technique that increases power density, reduces lead-time, and lowers system costs. By utilizing a surface mount capable cell, industry standard pick-and-place automation replaces the time-consuming and labor-intensive solar panel assembly process.

> 10% Increased Power Density

By using smaller cells and improved manufacturing techniques, the packing factor for both simple and complex solar array shapes improves significantly. Panels can be optimized by placing cells closer together and reducing waste around panel mechanical interfaces.

Reduced Lead Time

Instead of using larger cells to reduce touch labor hours, Sierra Space’s solution optimizes manufacturing using robotics, resulting in a zero-touch labor process. Utilizing a “one-size-fits-all” solar cell strategy, Sierra Space can stock solar cells in large quantities to minimize design and manufacturing time.

Lower Cost

Some power systems approach 50% of total satellite costs. With decreased design time, the ability to volume manufacture cells and human-free assembly, Sierra Space’s SMT dramatically reduces solar array costs while increasing quality and reliability.