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The European Space Agency announced today that it is studying using Sierra Nevada’s Dream Chaser spacecraft for manned flights.
This arrangement allows ESA to prove its hardware and technology in space on a crewed spacecraft. In exchange, SNC will have its development costs and production time potentially lessened as well as benefit from the extensive experience of ESA and its industrial partners. At the end of an initial evaluation and planning phase, which will continue through 2014, the organisations expect to continue the relationship through a long-term agreement leading to flight operations. Both entities foresee further arrangements to continue the partnership towards the potential use of Dream Chaser for European missions.
This supplements an earlier announcement by Germany which also is considering using Dream Chaser.