The Dream Chaser Spacecraft

Mindy Sparks
November 13, 2017

If Sierra Nevada is going to fulfill supply missions for the International Space Station and the United Nations, it'll have to prove that its Dream Chaser spacecraft is ready to fly... and it just took a big step in that direction.

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 company won a Commercial Resupply Services 2 contract from NASA in 2016 to transport cargo to and from the ISS. Under that agreement, Sierra Nevada will fly at least six cargo delivery missions for NASA by 2024, agency officials said in the November 11 statement. Sierra Nevada representatives announced on Twitter Saturday. The company expects to start cargo missions sometime in 2020. (5,500 kilograms) of cargo to the International Space Station. Orbital ATK's capsule - known as Cygnus - is then created to burn up in the Earth's atmosphere once it leaves the station, while SpaceX's Dragon cargo capsule can survive the descent to Earth, using parachutes to land in the ocean. Back in 2010, NASA awarded the company $20 million to develop the Dream Chaser as a crewed vehicle, and Sierra Nevada did a ton of tests over the next couples of years to prepare the spacecraft for carrying passengers.

"The Dream Chaser had a attractive flight and landing!" It proves that, on a basic level, Dream Chaser can live up to its role as a reusable cargo ship. "The testing will validate the aerodynamic properties, flight software and control system performance of the Dream Chaser". Since then, Sierra Nevada has been modifying the Dream Chaser to just carry cargo. The company promised to release more test flight details, images and video on Monday (Nov. 13). It was the second glide test for the project.

This is significant for the aerospace manufacturer since its last free-flight test in 2013 resulted in minor damage when a problem with the deployment of its left landing gear caused the plane to skid off the runway.

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