U.S. Government Awards Contract to Sierra Space for Development of New Upper-Stage Rocket Engine

The U.S. Government has issued a contract to Colorado-based commercial space company Sierra Space for the development of advanced upper-stage rocket engines. Sierra Space, a subsidiary of privately held Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC), is known for its suite of innovative space technologies and vehicles. The contract is part of an initiative towards U.S. independence in space, pushing the country to be less reliant on foreign-made rocket engines.

The project is aimed at creating an upper-stage engine that can be used on multiple launch vehicles, granting the U.S. a much-needed flexibility in launch capabilities. Referred to as the Vortex engine, the project is part of a broader company strategy to develop a new class of high-performance, low-cost, domestically produced engines.

The engine design leverages a novel “Vortex Flow Pattern”, known for its fuel efficiency. These engines are expected to reduce fabrication costs significantly, since they require fewer parts and simpler processes than conventional engine designs.

Sierra Space’s Vortex engine is designed to power the Dream Chaser spacecraft’s Shooting Star transport vehicle, which has been chosen by NASA for missions to the International Space Station (ISS). Using the Vortex engine, the transportation vehicle will demonstrate its capability for rendezvous, docking and safe reentry.

The contract articulates a collaborative effort between Sierra Space and the U.S. Government ensuring the country’s position in the space industry. Supporters of the project hope that it will heighten the U.S.’s competitive stance on a global level and strengthen the national economic and security front.

For additional information:

Sierra Space Press Release

Sierra Nevada Corporation Website