Sci-tech

Dream Chaser successfully completes glide flight

Dream Chaser successfully completes glide flight

Saturday's test flight is the first of several glide and landing tests Sierra Nevada is planning with the Dream Chaser test vehicle from higher and higher altitudes.

The testing showcased the Dream Chaser's aerodynamic properties as well as flight software and control system performance.

As Geek Wire notes, Sierra Nevada landed a different contract previous year to use the Dream Chaser as an unmanned vehicle to transfer cargo back and forth to the International Space Station.

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.

The Sierra Nevada Corp. posted photos from the free-flight test on Saturday to Twitter. They're created to be used 15 or more times and have autonomous launch, flight and landing capabilities, according to Sierra Nevada Corp. Right now, two companies - SpaceX and Orbital ATK - hold contracts with NASA to periodically resupply the station through 2018. 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. But a year ago, NASA awarded a second round of contracts, in order to cover cargo shipments to the ISS from 2019 through 2024. It is being created to land on runways and then allow crews to access the materials flown back to Earth soon after landing. The plan is for the Dream Chaser to fly a minimum of six missions to the ISS by 2024, says NASA.

The company is also developing a version of its shuttle that could carry as many as seven passengers to low Earth orbit. The spacecraft will launch on Atlas V rockets built by the United Launch Alliance and make runway landings. The cargo-carrying spaceplane is expected to supply the ISS for NASA. Sierra Nevada plans to give more details on the test during a press conference this afternoon.


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