KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. — Kennedy Space Center in Florida continues to get busier with commercial space ventures, and the latest features a space plane that will ferry cargo to the International Space Station.
What You Need To Know
- A commercial spacecraft will soon use the former shuttle landing facility at Kennedy Space Center
- Sierra Space's Dream Chaser space plane is expected to be used for resupply missions to the ISS
- Down the road, the Dream Chaser could ferry crewed missions into space
"I have great memories here. I landed here all three times. I love this place," said Janet Kavandi, who is leading Sierra Nevada's new division called "Sierra Space."
She was speaking about the former space shuttle landing facility, where the company's spacecraft, called Dream Chaser, will soon touch down after cargo runs to the ISS.
Kavandi, a veteran NASA astronaut, returned to Earth each time at the Kennedy Space Center landing facility.
"I really can't wait to get back in the new vehicle," Kavandi said Tuesday, referring to the Dream Chaser, which looks like a small shuttle.
The reusable cargo craft will launch on United Launch Alliance Vulcan Centaur rockets on NASA resupply missions to the International Space Station. When they return, they'll land, like the shuttle, on the now Space Florida-operated Launch and Landing Facility.
"I'm very pleased that Sierra Nevada and Space Florida have the license for Dream Chaser now here at this facility, because that's what this runway was meant for," Kennedy Space Center Director Bob Cabana said during the news conference.
SPACE VENTURE: @SierraNevCorp branching out to form Sierra Space. #DreamChaser plane will soon deliver cargo in 2022 to @Space_Station for @NASA. Take off, land from @SpaceFlorida landing facility at @NASAKennedy — @MyNews13 #News13Brevard (pic of plane is inflatable) @ulalaunch pic.twitter.com/bwrDoHySeO— Greg Pallone (@gpallone13) May 4, 2021
Since the space shuttle was retired 10 years ago, NASA turned over the runway to Space Florida. The Dream Chaser is another example of government and private partnerships for its use.
"The Cape Canaveral Spaceport and this facility have undergone historic resurgence," Space Florida CEO Frank DiBello said.
Sierra Space is spending the next couple of days scouting potential spacecraft processing facilities.
The partnership will lead to many highly skilled and highly paid jobs for Florida's Space Coast, though the exact number isn't known yet.
"As you well know how much it takes to process a spacecraft and get it ready to launch again, we are going to be taking into account a lot of talent," Kavandi said. "I think there's a lot of good work to be had here."
Sierra Space officials said their goal is to launch the first Dream Chaser resupply mission to the ISS in 2022. Potential crewed missions could follow down the road.