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Successful Glide Test For Sierra Nevada Corp.'s Dream Chaser

First Free Flight For The Space Plane Since 2013

The Dream Chaser prototype space plane completed a successful free glide test on Saturday, marking the first time the vehicle has flown on its own since 2013.

The uncrewed test took place at Edwards Air Force Base in California Saturday. Dream Chaser was dropped from a helicopter and landed successfully at Edwards. NASA said that the test verified and validated the performance of the Dream Chaser in the critical final approach and landing phase of flight, meeting expected models for a future return from the International Space Station.

The flight test helped advance the vehicle under NASA’s Commercial Crew Program space act agreement, as well as helped prepare the vehicle for service under NASA’s Commercial Resupply Services 2 program. The testing will validate the aerodynamic properties, flight software and control system performance of the Dream Chaser.

The Dream Chaser is preparing to deliver cargo to the International Space Station beginning in 2019. The data that SNC gathered from this test campaign will help influence and inform the final design of the cargo Dream Chaser, which will fly at least six cargo delivery missions to and from the space station by 2024.

Geekwire reports that if the test results are accepted by NASA, it will be the final milestone for a $227.5 million contract awarded to SNC in 2012 under the CCICap program.

SNC was awarded a separate contract last year to develop the spacecraft as an unmanned cargo vessel for ISS deliveries. The company also has an agreement with the U.N. to carry international payloads into orbit aboard the spacecraft.

The previous free glide test in 2013 was also deemed a success, but the landing gear did not deploy correctly, and the vehicle veered off the runway on landing and damage the prototype spaceplane. Dream Chaser was repaired and upgraded in preparation for this most recent test at Edwards.

(Sources: Edwards Armstrong Research Center news release and as cited. Image provided by NASA)

FMI: Geekwire

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