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Tokyo, Japan – May 31, 2024 - IHI Aerospace Co., Ltd. (hereinafter IHI Aerospace) will provide a passive docking system in a collaboration with Kanematsu Corporation (hereinafter Kanematsu) to Sierra Space Corporation (hereinafter Sierra Space), for Sierra Space’s space station technology [1].

The passive docking system is an essential component that enables reliable and safe docking between spacecraft, such as Dream Chaser® [2], and a commercial space station. The passive docking system developed by IHI Aerospace complies with the International Docking System Standard (IDSS) [3], and it is developed to realize simple, versatile, and highly reliable docking in space. The companies have completed the preliminary design review and are planning to collaborate toward the critical design.

Since 2021, IHI Aerospace has been working with Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency on the development of an IDSS compliant active docking system. In the future, both active and passive docking systems are expected to become key technologies supporting not only Low Earth Orbit (LEO) activities but space exploration in the Artemis program [4].

Steve Berroth, Senior Vice President and General Manager of EarthSpace™ Systems at Sierra Space, says “Our mission at Sierra Space is to create a platform in space to benefit life on Earth. In realizing that vision, safety is paramount in everything we do in commercial space station design and development. IHI Aerospace shares this commitment and we are confident that the company’s passive docking system is the optimal technology to integrate into our platform.

Kazumasa Goto, Board Director at IHI Aerospace says “We are very pleased that our passive docking system, which is being developed based on the mechanical system technology and heritage we have cultivated on the International Space Station and H-II Transfer Vehicle “KOUNOTORI” [5], has been adopted by Sierra Space for their space station technology. We believe this will also contribute to the future of benefit to humankind on the earth through our technology as a part of future commercial space stations.

Ryoichi Kidokoro, Senior Executive Officer of Kanematsu’s and COO of the Motor Vehinles & Aerospace Division, says ”We are delighted that the passive docking system manufactured by IHI Aerospace has been selected by Sierra Space, one of the leading space companies in the United States. Through this collaboration, we would like to accelerate to support on the export of Japanese manufacturers. We will continue our efforts to gain international recognition and trust for the superiority and high quality of space technology that Japanese companies have established so far, leading to the expansion of commercial space activities and the establishment of international cooperative relationships.

About Sierra Space

Sierra Space is a leading commercial space company at the forefront of innovation and the commercialization of space in the Orbital Age®, building an end-to-end business and technology platform in space to benefit life on Earth. With more than 30 years and 500 missions of space flight heritage, the company is reinventing both space transportation with Dream Chaser®, the world’s only commercial spaceplane, and the future of space destinations with the company’s inflatable and expandable space station technology. Using commercial business models, the company is also delivering orbital services to commercial, DoD and national security organizations, expanding production capacity to meet the needs of constellation programs. In addition, Sierra Space builds a host of systems and subsystems across solar power, mechanics and motion control, environmental control, life support, propulsion and thermal control, offering myriad space-as-a-service solutions for the new space economy.

About IHI Aerospace

IHI Aerospace has contributed significantly to Japan's space program, particularly in the field of space transportation. IHI Aerospace has also achieved outstanding results in the development of rockets and recovery systems for material experiments, and in the development of systems and equipment for use in space environments and experiments. With the wealth of technological expertise it has developed over the years, IHI Aerospace will further enhance its research and development activities in preparation for the coming era of space applications represented by the space station, and will also boldly take up the challenge of new fields such as FRP components for jet engines and robot systems, thereby contributing to the realization of human dreams and the development of society.

About Kanematsu

Kanematsu Corporation, a major Japanese trading company having 130 years of history, is headquartered in Tokyo, Japan. By multiplying our business networks in Japan and overseas with our vast experience in general trading, information-gathering, market cultivation, business incubation and project-forming & management, risk management, and logistics, Kanematsu is committed to creating new businesses with Sierra Space as a Value Creator. Kanematsu is involved in a wide range of businesses through its four segments: Motor Vehicles & Aerospace, Electronics & Devices, Steel, Materials & Plant, and Foods, Meat & Grain. In the aerospace area, we are proactively expanding our businesses areas, such as commercial and government space programs, defense programs, eVTOL, UAV, helicopter, fixed-wing, engine, and so on.

[1] Sierra Space is developing its own independent free flyer space station demonstrating the key technologies in collaboration with the Space Act Agreement (SAA) awarded by NASA. Such demonstrations are vital steps to ultimately designing objects intended for sustained commercial habitation in orbit. The SAA is set to begin while the systems are in the design and development phases and last for five years – through on-orbit deployment later this decade.

[2] A reusable spaceplane being developed by Sierra Space. Its operational missions for resupplying the International Space Station are scheduled to begin in 2024. Crewed missions are also planned to commence in the late 2020s.

[3] International Docking System Standard (IDSS) is an international standard for docking systems for both space stations and spacecrafts. It defines passive, active and androgynous docking systems.

[4] Moon exploration program that is led by the United States' NASA and other international allies.

[5] H-II Transfer Vehicle “KOUNOTORI” is a spacecraft to resupply the cargo to the International Space Station.

■ Kanematsu Corporation / Public Relation Section,
 Tel +81-3-6747-5000 https://www.kanematsu.co.jp/en/inquiry/

■ IHI Aerospace Co., Ltd / Corporate Planning Dept. Business Development G. https://www.ihi.co.jp/ia/en/contact/index.html

■Sierra Space Corporation / Alex Walker, Senior Director, Marketing & Communications TEL:+1-303-803-2297 E-mail:Alex.Walker@sierraspace.com