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Sierra Space Reveals Fully Assembled Dream Chaser Spaceplane Amid Testing Phase

In the burgeoning arena of commercial space exploration, Sierra Space has emerged as a pivotal player, demonstrating remarkable progress and innovation in 2024. This article delves into the company’s latest achievements, including the Dream Chaser spaceplane, advancements in space station technology, and a significant contract with the Space Development Agency, highlighting Sierra Space’s commitment to reshaping humanity’s future in space.

What is Sierra Space known for?

Sierra Space, a leading commercial space company, is known for two key things:

  1. Dream Chaser: This reusable spaceplane delivers cargo to the International Space Station under NASA’s contract and is being developed for crewed missions and national security applications.
  2. Commercial Space Station: They’re partnering with Blue Origin to build the “Orbital Reef,” a private space station offering Dream Chaser access and inflatable habitat modules.

Is Sierra Nevada the same as Sierra Space?

While they share similar names and have close ties, Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) and Sierra Space are distinct entities:

Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC):

  • Established in 1963, a long-standing aerospace development company with diverse offerings including national security solutions, aircraft components, and satellite systems.
  • The parent company of Sierra Space.

Sierra Space:

  • Founded in 2021 as an independent commercial space company spun off from SNC.
  • Focuses on space transportation with its Dream Chaser spaceplane and space destinations like the Orbital Reef station (partnering with Blue Origin).
Dream Chaser Spaceplane
Dream Chaser Spaceplane. Sierra Space

The Dream Chaser: A New Era in Space Cargo Missions

Sierra Space’s Dream Chaser spaceplane, named Tenacity, stands as a testament to the company’s engineering prowess and vision. This unique spacecraft, poised to conduct seven cargo missions to the ISS, is currently undergoing exhaustive testing, ensuring its readiness for the rigors of space travel. The testing phase, conducted at NASA’s Mechanical Vibrations Facility, includes simulating the intense vibrations of both launch and landing scenarios.

Following these tests, the Dream Chaser will move to the In-Space Propulsion Facility for further testing in orbital conditions, simulating the extremely low pressures and temperatures, as well as solar heating, it will encounter in space. The goal is to ensure that Tenacity is fully prepared for its first launch, scheduled for the first half of 2024, marking a significant milestone for Sierra Space in its contract with NASA​​.

Who are the competitors of Sierra Space?

Sierra Space operates in several areas of the space industry, so its competitors vary depending on the specific area:

Space Transportation:

  • Reusable Launch Vehicles: SpaceX, Blue Origin, Relativity Space
  • Cargo Delivery to ISS: Northrop Grumman, SpaceX
  • Crewed Spaceflight: SpaceX, Boeing, Axiom Space

Space Stations:

  • Commercial Space Stations: Axiom Space, Blue Origin (Orbital Reef project), NanoRacks

Inflatable Habitat Technology:

  • Bigelow Aerospace (though currently inactive)

Other Key Competitors:

Revolutionizing Space Stations with Expandable Technology

In addition to the Dream Chaser program, Sierra Space has achieved groundbreaking success in developing commercial space station technology. The company has successfully tested a full-scale, expandable space station structure, showcasing an innovative approach to space habitation. This technology, based on “soft goods” or woven fabrics, transforms into a rigid structure once inflated in space, offering an ingenious solution for creating large, habitable spaces in orbit.

This expandable structure, which significantly exceeded NASA’s recommended safety levels, represents a leap forward in space station design. Sierra Space’s technology is not only slated for use in their own Free-Flying Orbital Pathfinder but also in collaboration with Blue Origin on the Orbital Reef project​​.

A Major Contract for National Security

Demonstrating its versatility and technical expertise, Sierra Space was recently awarded a $740 million contract by the Space Development Agency. This contract entails building 18 satellites for missile warning and tracking to enhance U.S. national security. These satellites, integral to the Defense Department’s Low Earth Orbit constellation, are designed to detect and track various missile threats, including hypersonic missile systems.

This contract highlights Sierra Space’s capabilities in satellite technology and underscores the company’s role in addressing critical national security concerns. The award also positions Space Innovator Sierra as a prime contractor in delivering essential capabilities to the warfighter, further cementing its status as a leader in space technology​​.

Who is the CEO of Sierra Space?

The CEO of Sierra Space is Tom Vice. He has been in this role since the company’s founding in 2021. While Eren Ozmen remains a key figure as Chairman and CEO of the parent company Sierra Nevada Corporation, Tom Vice leads the operations and direction of Space Innovator Sierra specifically.

Sierra Space: Leading the Way in Commercial Space Innovation

The series of achievements by Sierra Space in 2024 are not just milestones for the company but also the broader commercial space industry. From the Dream Chaser spaceplane, a marvel of engineering designed for rapid reusability and reliability, to the pioneering development of expandable space station technology, Sierra Space is at the forefront of space innovation. The company’s successful testing of the Dream Chaser and the development of a new genre of space stations showcase a commitment to pushing the boundaries of what’s possible in space.

Moreover, Sierra Space’s recent contract for the development of national security satellites exemplifies its versatility and the trust placed in its capabilities. These developments signal a new era in space exploration, where commercial entities like Space Innovator Sierra play a crucial role in expanding humanity’s reach and capabilities in space.

As Sierra Space continues to break new ground, it is not just advancing its interests but also contributing to a larger vision of space exploration. Whether it’s transporting cargo to the ISS, building next-generation space habitats, or enhancing national security through advanced satellite technology, Space Innovator Sierra is a name synonymous with innovation, reliability, and the future of space exploration.


In conclusion, the strides made by Sierra Space in 2024 underscore the dynamic nature of the commercial space industry and the pivotal role the company plays in it. With its innovative approach to space technology and commitment to excellence, Sierra Space is not just witnessing history – it is actively shaping it, paving the way for a new chapter in human spaceflight and beyond.

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