Sierra Nevada Dream Chaser Conducts Critical Flight Test
Sierra Nevada Dream Chaser Conducts Critical Flight Test
The Dream Chaser rolls out on Runway 22L at Edwards Air Force Base California. Credit NASA
13 November, 2017, 21:40
The Dream Chaser spacecraft made a "beautiful flight and landing" during a second glide test on Saturday, according to its producer, Sierra Nevada Corporation.
The Dream Chaser is being developed to carry cargo to and from the International Space Station without a crew aboard.
In August, the Dream Chaser was flown through the air for more than two hours during a captive-carry test while attached to a helicopter.
The Dream Chaser was redesigned for cargo missions and in 2016, NASA announced that Sierra Nevada (along with SpaceX and a new company named Orbital ATK) would all be used for cargo missions to the space station in the upcoming future.
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SNC is planning to deliver cargo to the ISS in 2019 and is expected to fly "at least six cargo delivery missions to and from the space station by 2024".
The Dream Chaser is a fairly unique vehicle compared to the other two companies' spacecraft. The flight was a final funded milestone in the Space Act Agreement that Sierra Nevada Corporation has with NASA as part of the agency's Commercial Crew Integrated Capability effort.
The Dream Chaser last flew in 2013, but a problem with its left landing gear meant it had a hard touchdown, which caused the plane to skid off the runway and sustain minor damage.
"The Dream Chaser had a handsome flight and landing!" The first one, back in 2013, didn't go all that smoothly: the vehicle's landing gears failed, causing the spaceplane to crash land and then skid off the runway. It will lift off atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 booster from Cape Canaveral, and will touch down on the runway at the Shuttle Landing Facility at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. This landing seems to have gone much better, based on the pictures that Sierra Nevada released, though the company hasn't given much additional information.
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