Science

Dream Chaser Space Plane Passes Landing Test

Dream Chaser Space Plane Passes Landing Test”

But a year ago, NASA awarded a second round of contracts, in order to cover cargo shipments to the ISS from 2019 through 2024.

According to NASA, the 2017 test verified and validated the performance of the Dream Chaser in the final moments of landing.

On Saturday, it was dropped from a helicopter over the Mojave Desert in California, and then glided to a runway at Edwards Air Force Base. 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. They're created to be used 15 or more times and have autonomous launch, flight and landing capabilities, according to Sierra Nevada Corp.

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It is 30 feet (9 meters) long, about one quarter the length of a space shuttle and is a type of craft known as a "lifting body" in which aerodynamic lift is generated by its shape rather than traditional wings.

Resembling a mini Space Shuttle, the Dream Chaser will soon be used to send cargo to and from the International Space Station as part of NASA's Commercial Cargo Program. The Soviet program included several successful space tests, including a scaled-down version of the envisioned spacecraft, the BOR-4, launched in 1982. NASA promised to purchase at least six cargo flights each from SpaceX, Orbital ATK, and SNC.

Sirangelo compared the tests with this vehicle to those flown by NASA in 1977 of the space shuttle orbiter Enterprise.

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It's an important milestone in the Dream Chaser's development, as Sierra Nevada readies the plane for spaceflight. It's also designed with a "lifting body" meaning it can land nearly anywhere. NASA is "the first client", but SNC has direct or indirect agreements with over 20 space agencies and United Nations Office of Outer Space Affairs, he added.

The free-flight test came just over two months after the company performed a tow test on the vehicle on August 29.

The successful flight test was a relief for those at the company who have spent years working on the vehicle, including an October 2013 glide flight that both the company and NASA considered a success even though a landing gear problem caused it to skid off the runway after landing. 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.

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