After losing a bid to SpaceX and Boeing to taxi astronauts to the International Space Station, Sierra Nevada's miniature space shuttle Dream Chaser will have a new mission -- flying cargo for NASA.
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"It's pretty emotional. We've been chasing this for a long time," corporate vice president Mark Sirangelo, head of Sierra Nevada's Space Systems, told Discovery News.
The space agency also re-hired SpaceX and Orbital ATK, which currently fly cargo to the station. Each company's contract covers at least six cargo runs to the station between 2019 and 2024.
The Dream Chaser Cargo System builds on the mini-space shuttle design Sierra Nevada has been working on for a decade, including four years with NASA backing.
The robotic version of Dream Chaser features foldable wings so the spaceship can fit inside standard 5-meter payload fairings, used by United Launch Alliance's Atlas 5 rocket, the baseline vehicle for the cargo resupply missions, as well as Arianespace's Ariane booster.