Colorado-based Sierra Space plans to land some of its Dream Chaser flights in New Mexico, after the company announced on Tuesday it signed an agreement with Spaceport America.
Located in southern New Mexico and known for its anchor tenant Virgin Galactic, Spaceport America is one of the newest runways across the globe where the Dream Chaser can land efficiently, Sierra Space said in a news release. The runway at Spaceport America is 200 feet wide and 12,000 feet long.
“Spaceport America is enormously proud to combine efforts with Sierra Space,” Spaceport America Executive Director Scott McLaughlin said in the release. “As a potential landing site for the Dream Chaser spaceplane, we will continue to open affordable access to space for all in the United States and the world. We are excited to expand the partnership and working relationship with Sierra Space.”
The Dream Chaser is a “space utility vehicle” that is meant to serve multiple missions and is designed for the transportation of crew and cargo in low-Earth orbit.
Currently, Sierra Space’s Dream Chaser has a contract with NASA that starts in 2023 for cargo supply and return missions to deliver up to 12,000 pounds of cargo at one time to the International Space Station. Sierra Space said its Dream Chaser spacecraft is the only commercial spacecraft capable of low-gravity earth return to compatible commercial runways.
“Sierra Space is building the future of space – from transportation, to commercial space destinations and all of the emerging applications – to develop a vibrant, growing and accessible commercial space economy,” Sierra Space CEO Tom Vice said in a statement. “With that vision in mind, we are creating space-tech hubs within the commercial space ecosystem and adding Spaceport America as a prospective landing site for Dream Chaser to continue to open up affordable access to space for all.”
Sierra Space recently launched an astronaut training program led by a former NASA astronaut to lead a crewed version of Dream Chaser, according to the outlet SpaceNews. The company in February also signed agreements with Kanematsu Corp. and Oita Prefecture to study future landings at an airport in Japan for the Dream Chaser spacecraft.