Sierra Nevada Corporation
Company typePrivate
Founded1963; 61 years ago (1963)
HeadquartersSparks, Nevada, U.S.[1]
Key people
Fatih Ozmen, CEO; Eren Ozmen, President
  • Spacecraft
  • Telemedicine
  • Navigation and guidance
  • Information management
  • C4ISR
  • Electronic protection
  • Cybersecurity
RevenueIncrease $2.4 Billion(2021)[2]
Number of employees
5,000 (2022)[3][4]

3S Engineering

Sierra Space[5]

MicroSat Systems, Inc.

WaveBand Corporation

Turtle Mountain Communications, Inc .

Plano Microwave, Inc.

Sierra Nevada Corporation (also styled SNC) is an American aerospace, defense, electronics, engineering and manufacturing corporation[6] that specializes in aircraft modification, integration and other space technologies.[7] The corporation contracts with the United States Armed Forces, NASA, and private spaceflight companies. The corporation is headquartered in Sparks, Nevada, and has 36 locations in the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, and Turkey.[1]

As of October 2020, the corporation has participated in over 500 successful space missions, including 14 missions to Mars.[8][9] In 2021, the corporation created the subsidiary, Sierra Space, to continue working on the development of the Dream Chaser spaceplane and Commercial Space Station with Blue Origin[10][11] The organization is a multi-billion-dollar corporation with over 4,000 employees. Its main business is working with the US Department of Defense and NASA on contracts.[12][13]


The corporation was founded in 1963 by John Chisholm with a few employees working out of an airplane hangar in the Reno Stead Airport. The corporation was acquired in 1994 by Fatih Ozmen and Eren Ozmen. Fatih Ozmen was one of the original employees hired by Chisholm in 1981.[14] The corporation has since grown into a multi-billion-dollar corporation with over 4,000 employees. The companies main business is completing US Department of Defense and NASA contracts.[12][13]

In 2016, the corporation built a 130,000 square feet (12,000 m2) aircraft modification facility in Meridianville, Alabama, alongside Madison County Executive Airport. The corporation expanded, building an additional 60,800 square feet (5,650 m2) facility, which could hold seven Beechcraft Super King Air/C-12/MC-12S planes. The corporation began modifying commercial aircraft into military surveillance aircraft, such as the US Army's EMARSS platform.[15][16]

Space systems

In December 2008, the corporation completed its acquisition of SpaceDev.[17] It is now developing an orbital spacecraft called the Dream Chaser.[18] In April 2021, the corporation announced it would create Sierra Space, an independent commercial space corporation. Sierra Space is developing the reusable Dream Chaser spaceplane and working with Blue Origin to create a commercial space station.[19][20]

Dream Chaser spaceplane

Sierra Nevada's Dream Chaser

Main article: Dream Chaser

In February 2010, Sierra Nevada Corporation was awarded[21] $20 million in seed money in phase 1 of NASA's Commercial Crew Development (CCDev) program for the development of the Dream Chaser. Of the $50 million awarded in the phase 1 CCDev program, Dream Chaser's award represented the largest share of the funds.[22]

In August 2012, NASA announced new agreements with the Sierra Nevada Corporation and two other companies to design and develop the next generation of U.S. human spaceflight capabilities, enabling a launch of astronauts from U.S. soil in the next five years. Advances made by these companies under newly signed Space Act Agreements through the agency's Commercial Crew Integrated Capability (CCiCap) initiative are intended to ultimately lead to the availability of commercial human spaceflight services for government and commercial customers. As part of this agreement, Sierra Nevada Corporation was awarded $212.5 million, ostensibly to continue the development and testing of its Dream Chaser spacecraft.[23] The Dream Chaser is a revival of NASA's HL-20 Personnel Launch System lifting-body design.[24]

In July 2014, the corporation signed a letter of cooperation with Tuskegee University to collaborate on efforts related to SNC's Dream Chaser.[25] In August 2014, Lockheed Martin and Sierra Nevada Corporation unveiled the composite airframe of the Dream Chaser, which was used to conduct the first orbital launch in 2016.[26]

Internally the Dream Chaser program team is frequently referred to as the "Dream Team."[27] The team includes well-known aerospace industry partners such as Lockheed Martin and United Launch Alliance, NASA centers and universities across the United States, small businesses such as Craig Technologies, as well as the European, German and Japanese space agencies.[28]

In September 2014, Sierra Nevada Corporation lost the Commercial Crew Transportation Capability (CCtCap) contract to SpaceX and Boeing, which NASA chose as the two companies that will be funded to develop systems to transport U.S. crews to and from the space station. Boeing won $4.2 billion and SpaceX won $2.6 billion to complete and certify their spacecraft by 2017.[29] NASA deemed the companies proposal less mature than SpaceX's or Boeing.[30] In the selection statement, Bill Gerstenmaier, head of NASA's human exploration and operations directorate, explained the decision by stating that "a winged spacecraft is a more complex design and thus entails more developmental and certification challenges, and therefore may have more technical and schedule risk than expected", and "I consider SNC's design to be at the lowest level of maturity, with significantly more technical work and critical design decisions to accomplish.... SNC's proposal also has more schedule uncertainty."[31] Director Mark Sirangelo said the team was "devastated", and called it "like a death in the family", and Washington Post said the corporation "entered a realm particular to the world of government contracting: that of the big-time corporate loser".[32]

The corporation filed a protest to the GAO against the selection, which was rejected.[33][34] The Washington Post called the moves to preserve the program "straddling the fine line between faith and delusion, persistence and masochism". While the Dream Chaser was designed to carry passengers, they modified it for cargo and worked through Thanksgiving 2015 to meet a January 2016 bidding deadline.[35] In January 2016, they were awarded a Commercial Resupply Services (CRS-2) contract for resupply missions to the International Space Station between 2019 and 2024, guaranteeing a minimum of six launches.[32][11] The corporation will use United Launch Alliance's Vulcan Centaur rocket as the launch vehicle for Dream Chaser's cargo configuration starting in 2022.[36]

RocketMotorTwo and STPSat-5

Main article: RocketMotorTwo

The corporation was the main contractor on RocketMotorTwo for Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo, and designed the rocket engine for Scaled Composites, including the one used for SpaceShipOne.[37] In April 2013, SpaceShipTwo completed its first powered flight test using RocketMotorTwo.[38] After losing the bid for NASA commercial crew, Sierra Nevada reduced the staff working on RocketMotorTwo in September 2014. In late November, the corporation announced the permanent closure of their Poway, California propulsion development facility as they intend to consolidate all propulsion activity in one location, at the facilities at Orbital Technologies Corp.[39]

In October 2014, the United States Department of Defense awarded Sierra Nevada Corporation's Space Systems with a contract to develop and build a next-generation science and technology demonstration satellite, known as STPSat-5, for their Space Test Program.[40]

Artemis Human Landing System proposal

Main article: Artemis program

SNC Space Systems, working with Dynetics, participated in some early HLS design studies under NASA's HLS Appendix E program. They submitted a HLS proposal to NASA for HLS Appendix H, which was one of three proposals selected for further study, along with Blue Origin and SpaceX. NASA's Stephen Jurczyk identified the fuel drop tanks and low crew module as innovative strengths, but the propulsion system, identified by Scott Manley as SNC's Vortex engines, was a low-maturity risk. Overall, their technical rating and management rating were listed as "very good", making the Dynetics proposal the highest-rated project.[41][42][43]

Demonstration and Science Experiments (DSX) spacecraft

The corporation has concluded a successful two-year on-orbit research mission for the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL). The mission utilized the Demonstration and Science Experiments (DSX) spacecraft in medium Earth orbit (MEO) and helped utilize research and technologies that could advance the potential future deployment of United States Department of Defense (DoD) spacecraft in the harsh radiation environment of MEO.[44] The three successful DSX physics-based research/experiment areas include: Wave Particle Interaction Experiment (WPIx), Space Weather Experiment (SWx), and Space Environmental Effects (SFx). Robert Johnston, the principal investigator on the science side of the DSX team, commented on the DSX mission: "We will be working the science from this mission for the remainder of our careers ... DSX's contributions in understanding the environment of space are profound to our nation and the DoD."[45]

Other projects


In 2001, SNC was producing landing gear for the Predator drone.[46]

C-145A Skytruck

In 2009, the corporation converted the Polish PZL M28 Skytruck into the C-145A Skytruck for the Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC). One crashed beyond repair in Afghanistan in 2011. 11 were retired in 2015. In 2016, three were sent to Kenya, two to Costa Rica, two to Nepal, and two to Estonia.[47][48] The corporation took over maintenance of the AFSOC planes in 2017.[49]

Light Air Support

Beginning in 2013, the corporation partnered with Embraer to sell the Embraer EMB 314 Super Tucano as a Light Attack/Armed Reconnaissance aircraft under the USAF's A-29 Super Tucano designation.


Persistent Wide-Area Airborne Surveillance

Gorgon Stare is a remotely controlled, aircraft-based Wide-Area Persistent Surveillance (WAPS) system. Gorgon Stare includes the USAF's only operational day/night persistent wide-area motion imagery (WAMI) capability. The system has flown long-duration sorties daily in multiple theaters since March 2011, providing thousands of hours of direct combat support.

In Spring 2014, the U.S. Air Force deployed the latest generation of Gorgon Stare. The fully upgraded system simultaneously provides a four-fold increase in area coverage with a two-fold improvement in resolution compared to its predecessor. The system features two state-of-the-art imaging sensor turrets—an electro-optical (EO) sensor derived from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency's (DARPA) ARGUS technology and an infrared (IR) sensor integrating the largest IR arrays available.[57]

Transport Telemedicine System

The Sierra Nevada Corporation Transport Telemedicine System is a capability that captures and communicates patient care and condition information beginning at the point of injury and continuing until arrival at a medical facility. In September 2014, at the inaugural Nevada Telemedicine Summit, SNC successfully demonstrated the capability to the U.S. Army Medical Material Agency. The Nevada Army National Guard MEDEVAC unit flew the demonstration mission.[58]

Multi-mission aircraft

In July 2014, the corporations Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) business area located in Centennial, Colorado, won a competitive contract to provide and operate two multi-mission aircraft (MMA) for the State of Colorado Division of Fire Prevention and Control (DFPC).[59] Based on the Pilatus PC-12, the DFPC aircraft are equipped with electro-optical sensors and communications equipment that allow firefighters to detect small fires before they grow into large incidents that severely affect Colorado's lives, property, and resources.

As a result of the integration, technology and modifications, the MMA are providing advanced fire detection, location, and behavior monitoring capabilities. The aircraft feature a communications system that allows the aircrew to send collected information to all wildfire response personnel using the Colorado Wildfire Information Management System (CO-WIMS), a web-based collaborative information sharing tool that allows any firefighter immediate access to fire location, behavior, and other critical pieces of information. Colorado has also successfully employed the aircraft in search-and-rescue and environmental assessment missions.

In 2016, United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP) awarded SNC a $280 million firm-fixed-price contract to engineer and integrate 12 Multi-Role Enforcement Aircraft.[60] In 2020, CBP Air and Marine Operations (AMO) issued a delivery order to SNC valued at roughly $47 million for the acquisition of two Multi-Role Enforcement Aircraft (MEA). These two aircraft are the 24th and 25th ordered MEA, and are expected to be delivered early 2022.[61]


Dornier 328 and 328JET

A Dornier 328, 2006

In 2015, Sierra Nevada Corporation acquired 328 Support Services GmbH (328 SSG) and with it the maintenance rights and type certificates for the Dornier 328 and Fairchild-Dornier 328JET.[68] Later in 2015 an agreement was reached for the Turkish government to build the aircraft in Turkey as the T328 and TR328 and for Turkey to develop enlarged 60-70 seat "628" models, under the Turkish Regional Jet project.[69] First flights were anticipated in 2019, but the project was abandoned in 2017.[69] SNC and 328 SSG would continue exploring revivals of the 328 and 328JET.[69]

Survivable Airborne Operations Center

This section is empty. You can help by adding to it. (May 2024)

Main article: Survivable Airborne Operations Center


False Claims Act lawsuit

In 2017, the corporation settled a Justice Department lawsuit that says that the Sierra Nevada Corporation had overcharged the U.S government on federal contracts between 2007 and 2011 which violated the False Claims Act. They settled without admitting liability, paying $14.9 million.[70][71]

Lobbying and political influence

In 2007, the Las Vegas Sun noted SNC was "adept at targeting campaign contributions at elected officials who can help it", also noting its active Sierra Nevada PAC, which was created in July 2001.[46][72][73][74]

In 2004, then-Nevada house representative and Armed Services Committee member Jim Gibbons promoted SNC to receive a $4 million no-bid helicopter technology development contract. In the same timeframe, SNC was making political consulting payments to Jim Gibbons' wife, Dawn Gibbons. Dawn was also paid by Jim's political campaign, and a nonprofit set up by the couple also paid Dawn money. These payments were exposed in 2007 by The Wall Street Journal, who also said a grand jury had convened for this and another corporation Gibbons had been entangled with.[75][76][77]

In 2009, SNC was tied to lobbying scandals from the PMA Group and Indiana congressman and House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense member Pete Visclosky. SNC paid PMA Group $280,000 in 2006 for lobbying, and PMA was exposed in a large lobbying scandal. A grand jury summoned Visclosky for documents and later declined to charge him. He was also cleared by the House Ethics Committee, though Visclosky declined to be interviewed by the committee, and there were "troubling aspects" uncovered in the probe. An email from SNC's Dave Klinger justified their requested contribution amounts to Visclosky, stating "He has been a good supporter of SNC. We have gotten over 10M in [earmarks]". Referring to the Klinger email, Steven V. Roberts and Cokie Roberts called the PMA/SNC relationship "a bribe by any other name".[78][79][80][81][46][82][83]

Wuhan Virology Institute report

In 2020, SNC's Multi-Agency Collaboration Environment (MACE) group produced a report shared among the Department of Defense and Congress attempting to demonstrate that the Wuhan Institute of Virology shut down for several days in October, providing evidence for the COVID-19 lab leak theory.[84] The report's evidence was based on patterns of cellphone location data around the WIV during the time period.[84] Similar arguments had been labeled inconclusive by Western intelligence agencies after additional analysis based on satellite imagery.[84]

The report came under heavy criticism and was the subject of a rebuttal in The Daily Beast, which pointed out that the shifting patterns in cell phone data were easily explained by observable road construction.[85][86] The rebuttal also noted that the report relied on extremely small sample numbers (some as small as seven cell phones for an institute with hundreds of employees).[85] Intelligence and health specialists interviewed by NBC were broadly skeptical of the report, the outlet reported,[84] as were Congressional staffers quoted by The Daily Beast.[85]

Dates of acquisitions

See also


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  3. ^ "Who We Are | Sierra Nevada Corporation | SNC".
  4. ^ "About SNC".
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  6. ^ "Sierra Nevada | Company Overview & News". Forbes. Retrieved 2024-01-01.
  7. ^ SNC, Sierra Nevada Corporation |. "Aerospace & Defense". Retrieved 2024-01-01.
  8. ^ "Sierra Space Overview" (PDF). NASA. 2019-10-01. Retrieved 2023-12-13.
  9. ^ Maurer, Allan (29 July 2020). "Mars 2020 Perseverance Rover launching Thursday includes 8 components made in Durham". WRAL Tech Wire. Retrieved 16 April 2021.
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  11. ^ a b "NASA Awards International Space Station Cargo Transport Contracts". NASA. January 14, 2016. Retrieved January 15, 2016.
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  13. ^ a b "Fatih Ozmen". Forbes.
  14. ^ "Fatih Ozmen, Sierra Nevada Corporation". SNC.
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  17. ^ "Sierra Nevada Corporation Acquires Space Dev Inc". SNC. December 16, 2008.
  18. ^ Mark Sirangelo (2009-10-27). International Astronautical Congress 2009: Civilian Access to Space (video). Daejeon, Korea: Flightglobal Hyperbola, Rob Coppinger., video comments at 11:30 ff.
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  22. ^ Commercial Certification Process and Accomplishments (PDF), NASA, November 15, 2012, retrieved August 11, 2013
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  46. ^ a b c "Fatih Ozmen: Mystery man behind Sierra Nevada". Las Vegas Sun. 8 April 2007. Retrieved 22 May 2020. Most of the money went to the PMA Group, a mammoth lobbying firm in Washington founded by Paul Magliocchetti, formerly a top staffer on the House Appropriations defense subcommittee. Lockheed Martin, Boeing and dozens of other major defense contractors are on PMA's list of clients. Sierra Nevada, records show, has been among the firm's highest-paying clients the past two years, having paid it $280,000 last year.
  47. ^ Ranter, Harro. "ASN Aircraft accident PZL-Mielec C-145A (M28-05) Skytruck 08-0319 Walan Rabat Landing Zone".
  48. ^ "Kenya seeking Skytruck aircraft from US - defenceWeb". defenceWeb. 7 December 2016. Retrieved 28 May 2020. In July 2015 AFSOC announced it was retiring two thirds of its C-145A fleet, with 11 aircraft subsequently being disposed of.
  49. ^ "Maintainers to hand off C-145 duties in July". 919th Special Operations Wing. 10 April 2017. Retrieved 28 May 2020.
  50. ^ Mehta, Aaron (25 September 2014). "SNC, Embraer deliver first A-29 to Air Force". Military Times. Retrieved 28 October 2020.
  51. ^ "Embraer: U.S. Air Force Adds Six More A-29 Aircraft to A-29 Afghanistan Program Fleet". 25 October 2017. Retrieved 30 January 2023.
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  57. ^ Air Force stands by Gorgon Stare program, by Ben Iannotta - C4ISR Journal Writer, posted Tuesday Jan 25, 2011 14:15:59 EST
  58. ^ Garcia, Jessica (6 November 2014). "Sierra Nevada Corp. completes telemedicine program". Reno Gazette Journal. Retrieved 28 October 2020.
  59. ^ Gabbert, Bill (31 July 2014). "Colorado to buy two high-tech multi-mission aircraft for aerial firefighting". Fire Aviation. Retrieved 28 October 2020.
  60. ^ "Sierra Nevada Corporation Awarded $280M Contract to Provide Multi-Role Enforcement Aircraft to U.S. Customs & Border Protection". Sierra Nevada Corporation. Retrieved 23 September 2020.
  61. ^ "AMO Expanding and Modernizing Air Assets". U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Retrieved 23 September 2020.
  62. ^ "Textron Aviation awarded the contract for two Beechcraft King Air 350CER aircraft for U.S. Customs and Border Protection". 20 May 2020. Retrieved 22 May 2020. Textron Aviation Inc., a Textron Inc. (NYSE:TXT) company, was awarded a contract for two additional Beechcraft King Air 350CER turboprop aircraft for the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Air and Marine Operations (AMO). After mission modifications by Sierra Nevada Corporation, these two Multi-role Enforcement Aircraft (MEA) aircraft will join a fleet of 23 other King Air 350 aircraft used to safeguard the United States homeland as part of the coordinated application of CBP's aviation and maritime law enforcement resources.
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  65. ^ "Jamaica Defence Force commissions maritime surveillance aircraft". Flight Global. Retrieved 22 May 2020. The twin-turboprop Beechcraft King Air 350 WR has been modified by Sierra Nevada Corporation with intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) equipment. The JDF did not disclose what sort of ISR equipment was added to the aircraft, though the country's cabinet reportedly approved a $16.9 million payment to Sierra Nevada and the inclusion of the aircraft under the Maritime Air and Cyber Command suggests it may have electronic eavesdropping capabilities, as well as the ability to track boats hauling contraband.
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