WASHINGTON — After losing a NASA commercial crew competition earlier this month, Sierra Nevada Corp. (SNC) has laid off about 100 employees who had been working on its Dream Chaser vehicle, the company confirmed Sept. 24.

“As a result of not being selected by NASA, SNC needed to conduct a limited staff reduction of our Dream Chaser team of the personnel that have come on board in anticipation of the growth a win would have provided,” company spokeswoman Krystal Scordo said in a Sept. 24 email.

The layoffs, which took place Sept. 24, accounted for approximately nine percent of the Colorado-based workforce for SNC’s Space Systems business unit, which had grown from 200 people in 2009 to more than 1,100 prior to the layoffs. Scordo said the layoffs affected only those working on Dream Chaser.

“We spent considerable time exploring every avenue and doing all that we could think of to keep the impact of as minimal as possible,” Scordo said. “We have retained as many people as we were able.”

SNC was one of three major contenders for contracts in NASA’s Commercial Crew Transportation Capability (CCtCap) program, the next phase of the space agency’s efforts to support development of vehicles capable of transporting astronauts to and from the international space station. However, NASA awarded CCtCap contracts on Sept. 16 to two other companies, Boeing and Space Exploration Technologies Corp.

In the months leading up to the CCtCap announcement, SNC executives said they were exploring alternative uses of Dream Chaser in addition to, or in place of, ISS crew transportation. The company announced a number of partnerships with other space agencies and organizations, and will continue those efforts. “We are aggressively pursuing commercial and international paths for our program,” Scordo said. “SNC has made the decision to continue the development of the Dream Chaser to flight.”

SNC will continue to work with NASA on the company’s remaining milestones for its existing Commercial Crew Integrated Capability award it received from the agency in August 2012. The company is working on the final two milestones in that agreement, including a glide flight of a Dream Chaser test vehicle.

Scordo said SNC plans to pursue additional NASA business with Dream Chaser, such as a recompete of the Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) contracts for ISS cargo transportation. NASA released the request for proposals for the second CRS contract on Sept. 26, with proposals due Nov. 14.


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Jeff Foust has more than a decade of experience writing about space policy, entrepreneurial ventures and regulatory affairs. In 2001, he established spacetoday.net to aggregate and summarize the day's space-related news stories. In 2003, he started The...