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Sierra Nevada's Dream Chaser Space Plane Aces Free-Flight Drop Test
15 November 2017, 12:56 | Shelley Chandler
The Dream Chaser rolls out on Runway 22L at Edwards Air Force Base California. Credit NASA
During the last two years, SNC has worked to reconfigure the Dream Chaser to make it cargo-only spacecraft, after losing out as entrants in Nasa's commercial crew competition to build spacecraft that would see humans travel to low-Earth orbit and back.
Prototype spacecraft Dream Chaser has successfully completed its first glide test flight nearly two years after securing a multi-billion dollar contract from Nasa.
In previous tests this year a helicopter carried the Dream Chaser aloft but did not release it.
Engineers work to safe Dream Chaser after a successful runway landing at Edwards Air Force Base in California.
Below, photos and renderings of the new spacecraft. Right now, two companies - SpaceX and Orbital ATK - hold contracts with NASA to periodically resupply the station through 2018. He says that the company will carry out the shipment of cargo to the ISS, for the first time this will be done in 2020.
Sierra Nevada Corporation said the test was a success and pledged to give more details on Monday.
He said the fully autonomous vehicle "flew itself from the drop to the ground through the landing".
Sirangelo compared the tests with this vehicle to those flown by NASA in 1977 of the space shuttle orbiter Enterprise. NASA Commercial Crew Program space act agreement partner manager Mike Lee called it "a significant achievement that successfully demonstrated the final phase of atmospheric flight that will occur after re-entry from an orbital mission". At today's media teleconference, he said that a number of upgrades were made to this vehicle for Saturday's flight to certify systems for use on the orbital version.
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. It's also designed with a "lifting body" meaning it can land nearly anywhere.
The free-flight test came just over two months after the company performed a tow test on the vehicle on August 29. He said, however, that Dream Chaser will be able to be launched on a variety of launch vehicles, not only Atlas V, which is due to be phased out in the early 2020s.
During this testing period, Sierra Nevada and NASA aren't actually working with a Dream Chaser spacecraft-instead, they're working with a fixed-wing version.
Forecast: Chilly Week Ahead With Some Rain
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Veterans Day events around the Bay Area
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