November 17, 2017

Dream Chaser successfully completes glide flight

13 November 2017, 06:13 | Edward Lowe

The Dream Chaser rolls out on Runway 22L at Edwards Air Force Base California. Credit NASA

The Dream Chaser rolls out on Runway 22L at Edwards Air Force Base California. Credit NASA

The Dream Chaser is being developed to carry cargo to and from the International Space Station without a crew aboard. Earlier this year, officials at the Armstrong center, where Dream Chaser is being tested, said the space plane would to be dropped from an altitude of 12,500 feet (3,810 meters) by a Columbia 234-UT helicopter for this test.

NASA's Armstrong Flight Research Center said in November 11 statement that the glide flight "verified and validated the performance of the Dream Chaser in the critical final approach and landing phase of flight".

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Below, photos and renderings of the new spacecraft.

Dream Chaser is aiming to deliver cargo to the ISS beginning in 2019 and will fly six cargo service missions to and from the space station until 2024.

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The glide flight, while a milestone in the company's commercial crew agreement, will support Sierra Nevada Corporation's efforts to develop a cargo version of the vehicle. Sierra Nevada representatives announced on Twitter Saturday.

The flight was the second free flight of the Dream Chaser. Right now, two companies - SpaceX and Orbital ATK - hold contracts with NASA to periodically resupply the station through 2018. "The testing will validate the aerodynamic properties, flight software and control system performance of the Dream Chaser". 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. It was the second glide test for the project. Notably, it's this vehicle's first flight in 4 years, and its first successful landing demonstration - when this ship last flew in 2013, stuck landing gear forced a rough touchdown.

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