Dream Chaser passes a big milestone with a successful glide test landing

14 November, 2017, 00:39 | Author: Becky Perry
  • Sierra Nevada Corp’s Dream Chaser lands on Edwards Air Force Base in California. Spacecraft went through preparations for flight at NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center. Credits NASA  Carla Thomas

The unmanned craft is created to launch atop a rocket and shuttle cargo and supplies to the International Space Station, and then return to land on a runway with experiments and samples from the space station.

In previous tests this year a helicopter carried the Dream Chaser aloft but did not release it.

The uncrewed Dream Chaser made a smooth landing at Edwards Air Force Base during the free-flight test at NASA's Armstrong Flight Research Center in Edwards, California, NASA officials said in a statement.

Below, photos and renderings of the new spacecraft. Sierra Nevada filed a protest, but the government's General Accounting Office upheld the decision. The sleek but stubby black and white craft rolled to a stop at the same site where NASA's full-sized shuttles sometimes landed, looking very much like a "baby brother" to the retired orbiters. A fully working version of the Dream Chaser could start making deliveries as soon as 2020, if all goes according to schedule.

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Along with SpaceX and Orbital ATK, Sierra Nevada is under contract from NASA for as many as six cargo flights to the station.

The Dream Chaser is 30 feet (9 meters) long, about one quarter the length of a space shuttle.

- A mini-shuttle that one day may ferry supplies and astronauts to the space station is one small step closer to space after a successful test flight over the weekend.

The success of the flight test likely marks the last milestone for a $227.5 million contract awarded to Sierra Nevada in 2012 for NASA's Commercial Crew Integrated Capability (CCiCap) program. The Dream Chaser, however, which is meant to launch on top of an Atlas V rocket, glides down to Earth like a plane after reentering the atmosphere, landing horizontally on a runway. "The testing will validate the aerodynamic properties, flight software and control system performance of the Dream Chaser".

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