Sierra Space and Rocket Lab have signed separate agreements with the US Department of Defense (DOD) to explore how their respective flight systems— Sierra Space’s Dream Chaser spaceplane, Rocket Lab’s Electron and Neutron rockets—can be used for superfast cargo delivery on Earth.
The Cooperative Research and Development Agreements (CRADAs) signed by the firms are a vehicle to facilitate R&D work between the government and non-government entities like startups and private companies. These specific CRADAs are with the US Transportation Command, an agency under the aegis of the DOD.
Under the CRADAs, Rocket Lab and the US military will work to investigate and deliver cargo using the Electron and Neutron launch vehicles. Sierra Space’s agreement will operate to jointly explore using its Dream Chaser plane for hypersonic space transportation for terrestrial cargo and personnel delivery.
While Rocket Lab’s Electron has successfully reached orbit numerous times, both Dream Chaser and Neutron are still under development.
The two CRADAs aren’t limited to transportation vehicles. The US military is also interested in how cargo capsules—specifically, Sierra Space’s Shooting Star cargo module and Rocket Lab’s Photon spacecraft—can also be used to enable ultra-high speed logistics.