Sierra Nevada-UN Partnership Targets 2021 Launch of Multicountry Microgravity Mission

SpaceFenceA partnership between Sierra Nevada Corp. and the United Nations’ Office for Outer Space Affairs aims to launch microgravity payloads from UN member states aboard the company-built Dream Chaser spacecraft by 2021.

The U.N. said Tuesday the collaborative effort aims to give developing nations an opportunity to build and deploy payloads into orbit and that all member nations will have the chance to propose payloads for the multicountry space mission.

SNC and UNOOSA signed memorandum of understanding in June to jointly create a space mission opportunity for member states to fly payloads that will support microgravity science, remote sensing or space hardware qualification experiments.

Mission partners will brief U.N. member states on the objectives and framework of the mission as well as solicit payload proposals next year, according to the intergovernmental agency.

UNOOSA plans to select payloads in 2018 to provide time for development and integration into the spacecraft ahead of a planned 14-day flight to low-Earth orbit in 2021.

The agency noted that interested countries that lack expertise or experience in microgravity payload development will receive technical support from UNOOSA.

Member states that are selected for the payload mission will be asked to cover a pro-rated portion of the mission cost based on the requirements of their payload and their ability to pay, the U.N. added.

SNC’s Dream Chaser is designed to land at commercial airports or spaceports and the reusable spacecraft was selected by NASA in January to help deliver cargo to the International Space Station as part of the space agency’s  Commercial Re-supply Services 2 program.

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