Sparks company takes leading role in space

Sierra Nevada Corp talked bout its work on the aircraft that will fly to the Space Station.
Published: Mar. 31, 2021 at 6:42 PM PDT
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SPARKS, Nev. (KOLO) - Their headquarters sits on a hill overlooking east Sparks, but Sierra Nevada Corporation’s sights are set much higher.

Long known for the development of high-tech equipment for applications here on Earth, they are also a major player in space exploration and research.

They provided some key parts to the latest Mars rover, Perseverance, and in a virtual press conference from their plant in Colorado Wednesday they announced an ambitious timeline for their latest projects--commercial flights with its Dreamchaser spaceplane to the International Space Station next year..and by 2028, a replacement for the space station itself.

The new space station would use inflatable modules originally developed as living and working space on a base on the moon.

”That’s essentially a three-story building,” said Neeraj Gupta, SNC’s Director of Programs referring to a cutaway drawing of one of the proposed modules, “and if you think about a three-story building in space and multiple of those you can start to understand the amount of space and size capability that this system brings to the market.”

The current space station has been orbiting for a quarter-century and is showing its age. Gupta says its replacement would have room for all sorts of new endeavors.

“Manufacturing, pharmaceuticals, science research, media and entertainment. All of those capabilities are what we see are just some of the markets of the future. Those are just some of the many markets that are out there including tourism.”

It is, apparently, the beginning of a new era. “We’re coming to the point in history where we’re taking humans, average humans off the planet and allowing us to travel in space and live in space,” said former astronaut and SNC Executive Vice President Janet Kavandi. It will become part of normal society. We’re on the cusp of that.

Company executives say the station and the Dreamchaser spaceplane have been developed in partnership with NASA, a public-private partnership they expect to continue.

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