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ORBITEC and Sierra Nevada Space Systems Begin Testing Dream Chaser Life Support and Thermal Systems
by Staff Writers
Madison WI (SPX) Apr 27, 2012

File image: Dream Chaser Space System.

Orbital Technologies (ORBITEC) is the prime contractor for Environmental Control and Life Support System (ECLSS) and Thermal Control System (TCS) for the Sierra Nevada Corporation's (SNC) Dream Chaser Space System. ORBITEC has, along with its partner Hamilton Sundstrand, successfully completed two major tests for SNC under NASA's Commercial Crew Development (CCDev) Program.

The tests include the first integrated system testing and first integrated human testing of ECLSS and TCS components developed for the Dream Chaser, SNC's reusable orbital crew vehicle, intended to carry astronauts to and from low Earth orbit.SNC is keenly focused on the safety and reliability of its vehicle and operations.

Verifying and demonstrating both the functionality and the safety/reliability of the ECLSS and TCS subsystems for simulated full mission durations prior to Preliminary Design Review is a major goal of the entire team.

These early tests, using significantly demonstrated hardware, represent a singular example of how ORBITEC and SNC are approaching the crew transportation program.

Jim Voss, Vice President of SNC Space Exploration and former NASA astronaut, had this to say regarding the tests, "The ORBITEC/Hamilton Sundstrand team has done a great job of advancing the Dream Chaser life support and thermal control systems to allow this testing. This validates the heritage hardware design that supports an early crew transport capability for our Nation's space program."

The SNC Dream Chaser testing was completed at ORBITEC facilities in Madison, WI with assistance from the Hamilton Sundstrand office in Connecticut and Texas. Mark Sirangelo, head of Sierra Nevada Space Systems, said, "SNC is proud to partner with the leaders in crew support systems to bring known hardware to the Dream Chaser and assist in the creation and retention of high value jobs in Wisconsin, Connecticut and Texas."

All tests were completed in an environmental chamber representative of the Dream Chaser containing a majority of the ECLSS and TCS subsystems that will ultimately be located inside the spacecraft. Successfully completing the integrated hardware testing advanced and matured the ECLSS and TCS architectures and the integrated Dream Chaser configuration.

"Tests such as these really challenge the subsystems' abilities to work well together and are a great step towards understanding the system dynamics, retiring risks and focusing on a clear path to a successfully operating system, especially when we can run such tests early in the development cycle," said Tom Crabb, President of ORBITEC.

"The ORBITEC team is dedicated to supporting SNC's demonstrated commitment to safety, reliability, and efficiency."

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