Science

Sierra Nevada's Dream Chaser Space Plane Aces Free-Flight Drop Test

Sierra Nevada's Dream Chaser Space Plane Aces Free-Flight Drop Test

NASA has awarded the company a Commercial Resupply Services contract to provide ISS resupply flights from 2019 to 2024.

The company is under contract from NASA to fly its Dream Chaser spaceplane to the International Space Station by 2020.

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.

"The Dream Chaser had a attractive flight and landing!"

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SNC's lifting-body spacecraft has been in development for more than a decade and is created to deliver up to 5,500kg of pressurised and unpressurised cargo to the space station. They're created to be used 15 or more times and have autonomous launch, flight and landing capabilities, according to Sierra Nevada Corp.

- A mini-shuttle that one day may ferry supplies and astronauts to the space station is one small step closer to space after a successful test flight over the weekend. 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. It will lift off atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 booster from Cape Canaveral, and will touch down on the runway at the Shuttle Landing Facility at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Since then, Sierra Nevada has been modifying the Dream Chaser to just carry cargo.

NASA's Armstrong Flight Research Center said in November 11 statement that the glide flight "verified and validated the performance of the Dream Chaser in the critical final approach and landing phase of flight". Boeing, Orbital ATK, and SpaceX have also designed or flown spacecraft, but Sierra Nevada's spaceplane stands out in obvious contrast to the other companies' capsule designs. Sierra Nevada plans to give more details on the test during a press conference this afternoon.