Sierra Space, a pureplay commercial space company building the first end-to-end business and technology platform in space, announced it has achieved another significant milestone in the journey to the first flight of Dream Chaser. The company hosted its first-ever official training for astronauts from NASA and JAXA to learn the inner workings of the world’s first commercial spaceplane.
The astronauts – Jasmin Moghbeli (United States) and Satoshi Furukawa (Japan) – are two members of the upcoming SpaceX Crew-7 mission to the International Space Station (ISS). During their planned six-month stay, Dream Chaser will make its maiden voyage to deliver cargo to the ISS as part of NASA’s Commercial Resupply Services-2 (CRS-2) contract.
“We are honored to provide NASA cargo resupply missions to the International Space Station. The astronaut training is another important milestone as we complete the final preparations for Dream Chaser’s first mission,” said Sierra Space CEO Tom Vice. “Our team provided a comprehensive training experience for these Crew-7 members to prepare them for when Dream Chaser berths at the ISS.”
Sierra Space compiled an eight-hour training session that took place on March 7 at the company’s Louisville, Colorado, facility. Company specialists conducted the training, which was divided into four sections. Parts 1 and 2 were classroom training, while Parts 3 and 4 involved a full-size mock-up of Dream Chaser:
Part 1: Dream Chaser Overview – Sierra Space team members gave Moghbeli and Furukawa a full briefing on Dream Chaser. Topics covered included systems identification and function, mission profiles (from launch and rendezvous to reentry and landing), crew interfaces and operations (i.e., types of cargo, how to load/unload, etc.). At the end of Part 1, astronauts walked away with a full understanding of the hardware they will encounter on Dream Chaser once it is at the ISS.
Part 2: Rendezvous and Proximity Operations (RPO) – This portion of the training covered required actions as Dream Chaser makes its approach and officially berths with the ISS. Sierra Space employees carefully reviewed the timeline, profile and procedural operations of the high-level system configuration involved in this critical part of the mission.
Part 3: Dream Chaser Hardware Familiarization and Scenarios – The astronauts moved into a full-size mock-up of Dream Chaser. As they walked through the vehicle, Sierra Space employees identified hardware/systems and taught the astronauts how to operate and/or interface with each one. The astronauts also learned vehicle ingress/egress procedures, as well as discussed off-nominal scenarios.
“This was the portion of the training where the astronauts were blown away by Dream Chaser’s massive size, often commenting, ‘Wow, you can fit a lot of cargo in here,’” said Krista Abler, with Sierra Space’s Flight Operations Mission Training team. “You can look at CAD drawings or read about Dream Chaser’s dimensions all day long. But its immense capacity doesn’t really register until you crawl inside. I think this is a reason why NASA is excited about our vehicle.”
Part 4: Cargo Transfer Scenarios – During the final portion of training, the astronauts learned how to properly and safely install/remove cargo from Dream Chaser, using the same procedures and operational tools as they will on orbit. They practiced with numerous restraints (i.e., straps, beams, etc.), identified hazards associated with cargo operations and ran scenario drills.
“This was probably the most important lesson of the day because the whole point of Dream Chaser coming to the ISS is to deliver cargo,” Abler said.
Click Here to Learn More About the Dream Chaser Space Plane.