Sierra Nevada's Dream Chaser Space Plane Aces Free-Flight Drop Test

14 November, 2017, 01:57 | Author: Jacqueline Daniels
  • The Dream Chaser rolls out on Runway 22L at Edwards Air Force Base California. Credit NASA

The stunt, done at Edwards Air Force Base in Southern California, is known as a free-flight test and is meant to test out the vehicle's landing capabilities.

Sierra Nevada Corporation is developing the Dream Chaser for the last ten years, together with NASA, the latter then singled out to develop more than 125 million dollars. The reusable craft is considered ideal for this task since it's smoother return will ensure the preservation of precious scientific specimens on board.

The Dream Chaser is 30 feet long, about one quarter the length of a space shuttle.

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The compact space plane carries no crew, but will transport cargo to the International Space Station in the years ahead and conduct other missions in orbit around the Earth.

"The Dream Chaser had a lovely flight and landing!" The flexible aircraft can also be rapidly turned around and reused for future flights.

Prototype spacecraft Dream Chaser has successfully completed its first glide test flight nearly two years after securing a multi-billion dollar contract from Nasa.

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The spacecraft is still in its prototype phase so any data gathered from the test will help influence the final design of Dream Chaser. The company says it will release more information about the test Monday afternoon. Sierra Nevada filed a protest, but the government's General Accounting Office upheld the decision. The vehicle flew a similar glide flight in October 2013, which the company and NASA considered successful despite a landing gear failure that caused the vehicle to skid off the runway after landing. Sierra Nevada's six-mission contract calls for Dream Chaser to start delivering cargo to the space station in 2019.

The Dream Chaser is an autonomous, self-flying spacecraft, and this iteration will not carry any people. The spacecraft will launch on Atlas V rockets built by the United Launch Alliance and make runway landings. "The testing will validate the aerodynamic properties, flight software and control system performance of the Dream Chaser".

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