With the initiative of the dream chaser program, the Seirra Nevada Corporation was set to make the dream of transporting humans commercially to the International Satellite Station come true. The recent funding of US$ 10 million by the NASA was the first step towards certification of the dream chaser for human transportation. So far, the NASA has invested about US$ 350 million to SNc towards the support of the mega project. SNc happens to be one of the three companies that benefit from the NASA money.
However, the funding from the NASA has been in bits since they only funded individual phases of the project. It is important to note that each phase set by the SNc had a specific target. Each phase had well defined entry and exit criteria. The SNc team that has been working on the project is very committed to the project to an extent that they place their salaries at stake. They are not supposed to pay themselves if they do not meet the deadlines set. The SNc team is keen to provide details of the milestones to the NASA. This is done by ensuring that the SNc team meets with the NASA team once per week to provide updates of the status, briefs and also to brainstorm in cases of possible problems as well as track the progress made so far against the time schedule and the cost incurred.
The SNc has made sure that the security of the passengers remains the first priority once the commercial spacecraft is operational. In this regard, there are already documents in place that stipulate that NASA is supposed to take over the authority of the spacecraft once it nears the space station. Docking is a critical step and there is need to ensure that there is maximum safety to avoid the spacecraft colliding with the space station. To ensure that the safety of the passengers is given the first priority, NASA has made sure that the operations team is independent from the SNc commercial team that will obviously be interested with money once the spacecraft is docking (Bitumen, 2005).
There are teams comprising of engineers that are interested in conducting the reviews on the safety of the spacecraft. The engineers are specialists in specific systems of the spacecraft. They conduct the review before a second team comes to approve. The SNc uses simulations in order to make sure that the teams give safe results.
Such safety controls are important and this is one reason why the government agencies agree to work with the private companies in commercial projects that are mainly complex and sometimes very dangerous. The SNc team works with other agencies in consultation and this helps in encouraging innovation (Hartman, 2009).
It is encouraging to know that so far the Dream chaser project has been on time schedule as well as on budget since it has so far achieved all the milestones. Some of the major milestones that the dream chaser has already achieved are the test runs and other key design work. The aerodynamics design was for example tested through a full flight test that was conducted by having the spacecraft lifted by a helicopter via cables and was taken through several banks.
According to Mr. Sterit, he says that so far the success of the dream chaser can only be attributed to his team`s total dedication to the management`s procedures and processes. According to him, the teams dedication has enabled them to work within the time schedule and within the budget. The team has a set plan that they adhere to. The SNc team has also come up with a design approach that is dedicated in addressing the major risks way before they occur. Mainly, propulsion is the major challenge when it comes to aircraft construction (Gill, 2012). The design team had tackled the challenge early in the project.
The SNc team has an approach whereby each phase is tackled at a time. This enables the teams to concentrate with each phase and therefore give the best results. The other thing that has enabled the teams to control the safety of the spacecraft is the fact that NASA demands for very detail during the construction. This has enabled the SNc team to develop a bottom up approach. The approach is time consuming but it is advantageous in the long run since it helps solve challenges that would end up consuming hundreds of hours if not mitigated at an early stage. The bottom up approach helps in defining the design steps and also the time and cost estimates (Evans, 2008).
In the management of time and costs during the designing of each step of the spacecraft, the SNc team ensures that they have interviewed experts they have discussed the procedures and expectations with the engineers and also the suppliers in order to make sure that they are as close as possible to the accurate estimates (Keller, 2012).
According to Mr. Streit, the bottom up approach is important in that it enables the team to review every detail. The approach consumes a lot of time but it is important in that it saves hundreds of hours that could otherwise be spent incase a mistake happens later during the project. The SNc team is set to complete the designing of the spacecraft on time with the current trend that the team is taking as far as the management of time and costs is concerned. It is important to note that the SNc team takes time to consult widely before engaging in any task. The SNc team does not shy away from consulting the experts and the suppliers in order to be in a position to make the closest estimates (Keller, 2012).
The SNc team is conscious of time and realizes that there is need to use it well since it means more cost will be incurred if more unnecessary time is spent on the project. In order to cut cost, the SNc team plans well way before they engage into a task. The plan is put together after the consultations with the experts, engineers and the suppliers alike. The SNc team discuses its expectations with all the stakeholders. After everything has been put in place, the team is now ready to execute the plan. This makes the SNc team to leave very little errors if any.
The SNc team has its own way of reviewing its progress. They have set goals that they are set to achieve within a specific time period. The management team is set to make sure that deadlines are met (Gabriel, 2005). The management team is very dedicated to its work and there is a high level of discipline among the team members. The fact that the SNc team has high hopes in making the dream chaser project come true and within the set time schedule is a drive behind the reason why they are so dedicated to the project. NASA keeps a close look to the progress of the project. They fund the project in phases and demand for the detail on the progress of the project from the SNc team on a weekly basis. The project is an expensive venture and also has a potential of being dangerous and hence the sensitivity. It is for such reasons that the parties involved are monitoring the project very closely (Jameson, 2005).
The fact that the SNc team has managed to work within the budget so far and made the desired progress raises the hopes of completing the project within the set time duration. The SNc team sets a good example to the rest of the companies. The last flight-test of the spacecraft was not so successful since the left landing gear did not work and this resulted to a crash landing. However, the Sierra Nevada Corporation vice president said that all the systems of the spacecraft were found working. The engineers could not believe that the landing gear did not function as per their expectations. This was however an important lesson to the engineers and they vowed to make sue that such a mistake will never happen again.
Bitumen, J. (2005). SNc Space Systems. London: Sage
Evans, B. (2008). Dream Chaser takes its First Flight. Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
Gabriel, T. (2005). Sierra Nevada Corporation. Manhasset, NY: New York .
Gill, C. (2012). Dream Chaser. Buckingham: Open University.
Hartman, D. (2009). Space Exploration Systems. White Plains, NY: New York
Jameson, J. (2005). Dream Chaser Space System. London: Sage
Keller, J. (2012). Dream Chaser Free Flight Tests. New York: Cambridge University Press, New York

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