Sierra Nevada Corp. wins NASA contract

LOUISVILLE – NASA has awarded Sierra Nevada Corp. a $10 million contract as part of its effort to help private companies develop the next generation of spacecraft.

The contract, which was announced Monday, is to be used to ensure a commercially built vehicle will meet NASA’s safety requirements and standards for missions carrying astronauts, according to a release from NASA.

Sierra Nevada Corp. is a privately owned aerospace company headquartered in Sparks, Nevada, with operations in Louisville.
Two other companies developing spacecraft received grants. The Boeing Co. received $9.99 million, while Space Exploration Technologies Corp. received $9.6 million.

“This is the program’s first major, fixed-price contract. The effort will bring space system designs within NASA’s safety and performance expectations for future flights to the International Space Station,´ said Ed Mango, manager of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program at Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

The contract is for work to be conducted from Jan. 22 through May 30, 2014. Sierra Nevada Corp. and the other companies will work with NASA’s Commercial Crew Program to discuss and develop products to implement the agency’s flight safety and performance requirements, the release said. The work will cover all aspects of the space system, including the spacecraft, launch vehicle and ground and mission operations.

If the companies pass, they will be eligible for the second phase of the certification contract process, expected to start in mid-2014. That phase is a full and open competition that will include final development, testing and verification needed to allow crewed demonstration flights to the International Space Station, NASA said.

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