Space company Sierra Nevada has announced that they have signed a contract with United Launch Alliance to launch the company's Dream Chaser spaceplane in 2020 on a Decatur-made Atlas V rocket.
"“ULA is pleased to partner with Sierra Nevada Corporation to launch its Dream Chaser cargo system to the International Space Station in less than three years,” said Gary Wentz, ULA vice president of Human and Commercial Systems. “We recognize the importance of on time and reliable transportation of crew and cargo to Station and are honored the Atlas V was selected to continue to launch cargo resupply missions for NASA.”
The company will launch two missions, one in 2020, and the other in 2021. Both launches will be on the Atlas V, lifting off from Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral.
Both will be unmanned cargo missions. Sierra Nevada is set to fly up to six for NASA. The spacecraft can also carry crew if needed, and according to the company, can land on any runway that can support a Boeing 737 airliner.
“SNC recognizes the proven reliability of the Atlas V rocket and its availability and schedule performance makes it the right choice for the first two flights of the Dream Chaser,” said Mark Sirangelo, corporate vice president of SNC's Space Systems business area. “ULA is an important player in the market and we appreciate their history and continued contributions to space flights and are pleased to support the aerospace community in Colorado and Alabama,” he added.
But Huntsville has a unique connection to the Dream Chaser. Last week, the city council approved funding for a plan to allow the Dream Chaser and other spacecraft to land at Huntsville International Airport. That would require the airport to gain FAA and environmental licensing.
But if it succeeds, Huntsville International Airport could become Huntsville Spaceport.