Sierra Nevada Corporation | SNC | Logo Min Sierra Nevada Corporation SNC Logo Small search search icon arrow right arrow right icon press press release icon event event icon award award icon horn announcement icon facebook facebook icon google google plus icon linkedin linkedin icon youtube youtube icon instagram instagram icon flickr flickr icon icon pdf pdf download icon icon phone telephone number icon icon email email address icon

Sierra Nevada Corporation | SNC Sierra Nevada Corporation | SNC

Space Technologies & Subsystems

Space Technologies & Subsystems

Spacecraft Electromechanical & Solar Power Systems

We have supplied thousands of spacecraft mechanisms and electromechanical subsystems on hundreds of missions since 1987. Our engineers are experts in precision motion control, low-shock separation and passive thermal control technologies. Customers leverage our extensive flight heritage, engineering capabilities and broad portfolio of qualified products to create programs that are low risk.


Our large manufacturing and state-of-the-art testing facilities allow us to deliver products on time and with confidence. Some of our verification capabilities include: vibration, thermal-vacuum, large area pulsed solar simulation, shock, radio frequency (RF), stiffness, motor/actuator speed-torque-accuracy, line-of-sight micro-motion jitter testing and functional testing.

Mission Heritage

Sun Missions | Sierra Nevada Corporation
Venus Missions | Sierra Nevada Corporation
Earth Missions | Sierra Nevada Corporation
Mars Missions | Sierra Nevada Corporation
Jupiter Missions | Sierra Nevada Corporation
Saturn Missions | Sierra Nevada Corporation
Pluto Missions | Sierra Nevada Corporation
Asteroid & Comet Missions | Sierra Nevada Corporation

Mission Highlights

  • Mars 2020 (Perseverance)
  • Parker Solar Probe
  • Cargo Missions
  • STPSat-5
  • World View Legion Earth Imaging
  • Dream Chaser® Spaceplane

Mars 2020 (Perseverance)

Descent brake, motors & actuators; our 14th mission to Mars.

Parker Solar Probe

Mechanisms for power, communications & thermal control systems - closer to the sun than any other man-made object

Cargo Missions

(Cygnus & H2 Transfer Vehicle)

Passive common berthing mechanism, cargo pallet hold down & release mechanisms critical for International Space Station resupply


Power system solar arrays & solar array drive actuators

World View Legion Earth Imaging

Antenna Servo Pointing System

Dream Chaser® Spaceplane

Power system, solar arrays & solar array drive actuators, flight control actuation system, wing lock & deploy mechanisms & Shooting Star transfer vehicle separation system


  • We solidified our docking and berthing technology by providing the system that captured and docked two spacecraft together on-orbit for the Orbital Express program. Our technology allowed for remote servicing such as refueling and replacement of outdated and expended components. We have now leveraged that mechanical systems experience, becoming the go-to supplier for the industry standard Passive Common Berthing Mechanism (PCBM), required for spacecraft such as the Orbital Cygnus Advanced Maneuvering Vehicle and the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module to berth with the International Space Station (Space Station).

    • Passive Common Berthing Mechanisms
  • While many spacecraft are decreasing in size, physics will maintain the demand for large aperture subsystems. For that reason, we consider deployable structures to be a critical element in the future of microsatellite systems. Our Jackscrew boom system utilizes high-strength, high-stiffness articulated truss elements that ensure low-risk linear deployment. The structure and deployment system are readily integrated into mass and volume efficient super structures for planar arrays. Meanwhile, our K-Truss booms are engineered with a strain-energy deployment system that reduces cost and is constructed with a non-conductive material that enables antenna integration.

    • Jackscrew Deployed Boom
    • K-truss Boom
  • We provide low-cost, highly-scalable power systems with power ranges from 10 Watts to 10 kilowatts. End-to-end electric power solutions consist of fully-assembled and tested solar arrays, solar array drives, slip rings, hinges, hold-down mechanisms, power electronics, batteries and motor control electronics. Using state-of-the art tools and integration equipment, our engineering teams have the expertise and experience to define, analyze and test complete power systems. We have custom EPS designs ranging from 28 to 125 Volts, with power from 750 to 3000 Watts. Our scalable power systems can be tailored to fit a wide variety of mission options with reduced cost and risk by incorporating existing qualified and flight-proven designs.

    • C14-750 W Solar Array Drive Assembly (SADA)
    • Cell Shorting Device (CSD) Battery Switch
    • Cubesat Solar Array
    • Microsat Articulated Solar Array
    • Microsat Rigid Panel Solar Array
    • Smallsat Solar Array System
    • T25 Incremental Rotary Actuator

    Learn more about Surface Mount Technology (SMT) solar arrays.

  • Flight Control Systems (FCS) and Thrust Vector Control (TVC) Systems leverage our extensive experience in space-qualified actuator and electronics design. The Dream Chaser® spacecraft’s electro-mechanical TVC and Flight Control Systems were designed in-house to very demanding requirements leveraging spaceflight-proven hardware and engineering methods. Our TVC Systems are designed to meet complete vehicle control requirements with highly scalable actuators and electronics thus minimizing cost and schedule. In addition to entire TVC systems, our TVC actuators can be used as a cost-effective and reliable replacement for existing TVC system actuators.

    • Flight Control and Thrust Vector Control Systems
  • We have supported both U.S. and international launch services for decades with a variety of technologies needed for reliable and gentle payload and spacecraft deployment into proper orbit. Devices such as the low-shock Clamp Band Opening Devices (CBODs) are now used to release dozens of primary payloads each year on nearly every major launch vehicle. Other products such as our Fast Acting Shock-less Separation Nuts (FASSNs) have become the go-to method for safely restraining and releasing the cargo pallet on H2 Transfer Vehicles to assist in delivering critical equipment and supplies to the International Space Station. We also offer larger structural systems such as our own Dream Chaser® spacecraft Launch Vehicle Integration System as well as dispensers, adapters and integration services required for carrying both single and multiple spacecraft onward to their mission in space.

    • Fast-Acting Shockless Separation Nut (FASSN) 30K
    • Hold Down Release Mechanism (HDRM)
    • Low-Shock Release Mechanism (LSRM) 5K
    • PP-5501 Two-Position Latching Actuator
    • Microsat Rigid Panel Solar Array
    • QwkSep 15 Low-Profile Separation System
    • QwkSep 24 Low-Profile Separation System
  • Since 1987, our space technologies group has flown thousands of mechanisms on hundreds of space missions. One of our very first products, the High-Output Paraffin Actuator (HOPA) has become an industry standard for the gentle, low-shock release of critical spacecraft applications such as solar arrays, antennas and payloads. Over the years, we have been able to leverage technologies such as the HOPA into larger subsystem offerings such as custom Instrument Covers and Optical Barrel Assemblies.

    • EH-3525 HOP Actuator
    • IH-5055/-10055 High Output Paraffin (HOP) Actuators
    • PP-35055 Resettable High-Force Pin Puller
  • We are an industry leader in precision, low-disturbance pointing systems for space applications and have developed a number of single- and dual-axis pointing systems for spaceflight tracking, navigation and positioning functions for antennae, solar array drives/mechanisms, optical telescopes and instrument mechanisms. Our pointing systems are qualified and flight-proven with NASA programs, commercial and military satellites and the ISS. Although we specialize in custom-engineered, open- and closed-loop solutions, our list of qualified motors, actuators, gimbals and drive electronics has grown into a substantial portfolio capable of supporting a wide range of applications and sizes with minimal non-recurring effort required.

    • C14 Bi-Axis Gimbal
    • C14 Incremental Rotary Actuator
    • C14-750 W Solar Array Drive Assembly
    • C20 Incremental Rotary Actuator
    • C50 Incremental Rotary Actuator
    • Electronic Control Unit (ECU)
    • EH25 Bi-Axis Gimbal, 3-Phase
    • EH25 Incremental Rotary Actuator, 3-Phase
    • eMotor
    • H25 Bi-axis Gimbal, 4 phase
    • LDC20 Low-Disturbance Gimbal
    • Lightweight 2-axis Mini Gimbal
    • Rotary Drive Electronics
    • Size 23 Incremental Rotary Actuator
    • T25 Incremental Rotary Actuator
    • Universal Microstepping Control Driver

    Learn more about Pointing & Motion Control Systems.

  • We have extensive experience in the area of spacecraft thermal control. Currently, our portfolio includes thermal louvers that draw from decades of NASA/JPL heritage and are currently supporting a number of interplanetary spacecraft; and heat switches, which for years reliably controlled the main battery temperature on the Mars exploration rovers Spirit and Opportunity. Both technologies are considered passive approaches in that they require no externally supplied power to operate, allowing valuable spacecraft power to be reserved for other needs.

    • Miniature Satellite Energy-Regulating Radiator (MiSER)
    • Passive Thermal Control Heat Switch
    • Passive Thermal Louvers
    • Thin Plate Heat Switch

Associated Business Areas & Subsidiaries

Subsidiary Sierra Space

Associated Products, Services & Programs

Space Technologies Brochure 2020

Space Technologies Mission Heritage 2020

Space Systems Product Catalog (.PDF)


SNC Store