It was announced today that Sierra Nevada Corporation’s (SNC) Space Systems division would be splitting off into its own, independent company. This move comes shortly after SNC announced their future plans for space, including an inflatable space station.

SNC has a long history of working on space systems, and Sierra Space further emphasizes its commitment to achieving its goals. Moving the Space Systems division independent will likely result in these goals reaching fruition faster.

SNC Space Systems Division History

SNC got its start as a defense contractor and really broke into the space business with their acquisition of SpaceDev in 2008. With the acquisition came Dream Chaser, a reusable space plane designed to take humans to space. SpaceDev had been developing Dream Chaser with the intent of it being used for NASA contracts. SpaceDev submitted Dream Chaser for the Commercial Orbital Transportation Services program but ultimately lost out to SpaceX and Orbital Sciences.

(Render) Dream Chaser in Space Image Credit: Sierra Nevada Corporation

SNC continued the development of Dream Chaser after the acquisition with grants and awards from NASA. A cargo version of Dream Chaser was developed after not winning a spot on the Commercial Crew Transportation Capability contract, a decision they protested. In 2016, SNC ended up winning a part of the Commercial Resupply 2 contract to resupply the International Space Station.

Sierra Space, what does it mean moving forward?

The announcement of Sierra Space will result in a few changes, some more visible than others. For starters, Sierra Space will be a subsidiary of SNC and will retain its close working relationship with other divisions of SNC. The Space Systems division going independent also means managerial changes. But one change that could have the most substantial impact on the future of Sierra Space is the ability to become a publicly-traded company.

SNC is privately held, meaning you can’t just go out and buy stock freely, unlike some other commercial space providers that have recently gone public. There are pros and cons to being either private or public, but funding is what Sierra Space will require. Being independent will also make it simpler to get external investment.

Much is still unknown at this time about what all will fall under Sierra Space and what will remain with SNC, but Dream Chaser is likely to move over to Sierra Space. We are sure to find out more in the coming months as this transition occurs and finalizes.

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