Dream Chaser Space Plane Passes Landing Test

Dream Chaser landing

Dream Chaser landing

The Dream Chaser is 30 feet long, about one quarter the length of a space shuttle.

"This spacecraft is the future and has the ability to change the way humans interact with space", SNC CEO Fatih Ozmen said. The Dream Chaser spacecraft developed specifically for bringing supplied to the ISS is in the testing stages and passed a test for approach and landing on Saturday.

In a conference call with reporters, company officials said the November 11 flight of the Dream Chaser engineering test article at Edwards Air Force Base went as expected.

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The free flight lasted 60 seconds, reaching a maximum speed of 330 miles per hour (531 kph) and touching down at the targeted spot on the runway at a speed of 191 miles per hour (307 kph).

Sirangelo said the company is planning to build two orbital vehicles at the moment and each is designed for at least 15 flights each with a turnaround time of 60 days. This involved attaching Dream Chaser to a pickup truck that would pull it some 60 miles per hour (about 95 km/h). During a captive carry test, a helicopter lifts the spacecraft and lets it practice its moves. This was essentially a dry run for the glide test in order to gain data and calibrate instruments.

However, in 2016, the space agency awarded SNC a contract under the Commercial Resupply Services 2 (CRS-2) program. The Dream Chaser from Sierra Nevada offers more reliable landings than the other two now offer. The first flight of the Dream Chaser under that contract will be in 2020; it will serve as both an orbital test flight of the vehicle as well as a mission to transport cargo to and from the station. 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. Unlike other spacecraft - the capsules that look like the vehicles that flew in the Apollo-era - the Dream Chaser has wings and wheels that allow it to land on a runway. It will sport an expandable cargo module at the rear that will feature solar panels and a docking mechanism. The plan is for the Dream Chaser to fly a minimum of six missions to the ISS by 2024, says NASA. "This advances our program and the Dream Chaser towards orbital flight, while meeting the final milestone for our NASA CCiCap [Commercial Crew integrated Capability] agreement and supporting milestone 5 of the CRS-2 contract".

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