Sierra Nevada Dream Chaser Conducts Critical Flight Test

Olive Hawkins
November 13, 2017

The unmanned craft is created to launch atop a rocket and shuttle cargo and supplies to the International Space Station, and then return to land on a runway with experiments and samples from the space station.

In previous tests in 2017, a helicopter carried the Dream Chaser aloft but did not release it. It glided towards the Edwards Air Force Base in California and successfully landed.

Below, photos and renderings of the new spacecraft. The Dream Chaser, however, which is meant to launch on top of an Atlas V rocket, glides down to Earth like a plane after reentering the atmosphere, landing horizontally on a runway. Sierra Nevada representatives announced on Twitter Saturday. But in 2014, NASA didn't pick the Dream Chaser to do crewed flights to the ISS, going with SpaceX and Boeing's proposed vehicles instead. The company says it will release more information about the test Monday afternoon.

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SNC is planning to deliver cargo to the ISS in 2019 and is expected to fly "at least six cargo delivery missions to and from the space station by 2024".

SNC is one of the three private companies, which include Oribtal ATK and SpaceX, selected by the U.S. space agency to transport supplies to the International Space Station for the next eight years in a deal potentially worth 14 billion USA dollars (£10bn).

This weekend's free-flight test was the second one that Sierra Nevada has done with Dream Chaser. The vehicle flew a similar glide flight in October 2013, which the company and NASA considered successful despite a landing gear failure that caused the vehicle to skid off the runway after landing.

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