NASA announced on their press conference on 14 January 2016 about awards for CRS 2 contract for resupply missions to ISS. Sierra Nevada is awarded along with Orbital ATK and SpaceX.
Great news for Sierra Nevada Corporation – their Dream Chaser (more about this space plane You can read here) space plane will be one from three resupply vehicles for Commercial Resupply Services 2 contract. Other contractors are proven SpaceX with Dragon and Orbital ATK with Cygnus spacecrafts. All three contractors were awarded with contracts for six missions each with unveiled total value. Contract gives NASA opportunity for flexible managing of missions – depending on NASA demands, missions could be in pressurized, unpressurized or combined configuration; with or without returning cargo and with docking or berthing. Most innovative is feature provided by Dream Chaser – rapid returning cargo mission with soft landing. It is crucial for some kind of scientific payload like biological samples or animals. Planned return cargo by Dream Chaser will short time needed for delivering samples to laboratory on Earth from 24 hours to 6 hours. This feature of Dream Chaser and general intensification of utilizing ISS decided about choosing Sierra Nevada as third contractor. First missions under CRS 2 are planned on 2019, so we will probably see Dream Chaser in flight for three years.
Congratulations Sierra Nevada!