Sierra Space and Spaceport America have signed a new Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that adds the New Mexico spaceport to Sierra Space’s portfolio of potential, global, landing sites for the company’s Dream Chaser®, the world’s first and only winged commercial spaceplane.
Spaceport America, located in southern New Mexico, is the most recent addition to a growing list of compatible runways worldwide where the Dream Chaser could land, including the Shuttle Landing Facility (SLF) at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center and airports and landing sites in Huntsville, Alabama, Oita Airport, Japan, and Spaceport Cornwall in the United Kingdom.
Dream Chaser is a multi-mission, space utility vehicle that is designed for transporting crew and cargo to and from LEO destinations, including the International Space Station (ISS). The spaceplane is currently under contract with NASA for seven commercial resupply missions to the ISS, providing cargo delivery, return and waste disposal services. This is the only commercial spacecraft capable of low-g Earth return to compatible commercial runways worldwide, allowing immediate access to high value payloads. Dream Chaser is set to launch in 2023.
The new MOU outlines the two organizations’ mutual pursuit to increase Spaceport America’s capabilities and demand for Dream Chaser reentry at the spaceport. As a result, in line with their shared vision, both parties will pursue a Part 433 reentry site operator’s license for Spaceport America from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Dream Chaser is currently under contract to perform cargo supply and return missions for NASA starting in 2023, delivering up to 12,000 pounds of cargo to the International Space Station (ISS) at a time.
“Sierra Space is building the future of space – from transportation, to commercial space destinations and all of the emerging applications – to develop a vibrant, growing and accessible commercial space economy,” said Sierra Space CEO, Tom Vice. “With that vision in mind, we are creating space-tech hubs within the commercial space ecosystem and adding Spaceport America as a prospective landing site for Dream Chaser to continue to open up affordable access to space for all.”
“Spaceport America is enormously proud to combine efforts with Sierra Space,” said Scott McLaughlin, Executive Director of Spaceport America. “As a potential landing site for the Dream Chaser spaceplane, we will continue to open affordable access to space for all in the United States and the world. We are excited to expand the partnership and working relationship with Sierra Space. This MOU also helps highlight the vision for Spaceport America and to help connect other users of both the spaceport and the Dream Chaser to New Mexico.”
Sierra Space is a leading commercial space company that is building platforms in space to benefit life on Earth. With more than 30 years and 500 missions of space flight heritage, Sierra Space is enabling the future of space transportation with Dream Chaser®, the world’s only winged commercial spaceplane. Expected to launch in early 2023 on a series of NASA missions, Dream Chaser can safely carry cargo – and eventually crew – to on-orbit destinations, returning to land on compatible commercial airport runways worldwide. Sierra Space is also building the LIFE™ habitat, a three-story commercial habitation and science platform designed for low Earth orbit (LEO). 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 2027.
Spaceport America is the first purpose-built commercial spaceport in the world. The FAA-licensed launch complex, situated on 18,000 acres adjacent to the U.S. Army White Sands Missile Range in southern New Mexico, has a rocket friendly environment of 6,000 square miles of restricted airspace, low population density, a 12,000-foot by 200-foot runway, vertical launch complexes, and about 340 days of sunshine and low humidity.