Wednesday, 22 November, 2017

Sierra Nevada Corp tests Dream Chaser spacecraft

The Dream Chaser rolls out on Runway 22L at Edwards Air Force Base California. Credit NASA The Dream Chaser rolls out on Runway 22L at Edwards Air Force Base California. Credit NASA
Heather Davidson | 14 November, 2017, 00:42

Sierra Nevada Corporation is developing the Dream Chaser for the last ten years, together with NASA, the latter then singled out to develop more than 125 million dollars.

Sierra Nevada's Dream Chaser spaceplane safely glided to the Edwards Air Force Base runway Saturday after being dropped from a helicopter in a free-flight test.

The Dream Chaser suffered a setback in 2013 when the craft's landing gear did not completely deploy during a landing test and it skidded to a stop on the runway.

Below, photos and renderings of the new spacecraft. They're created to be used 15 or more times and have autonomous launch, flight and landing capabilities, according to Sierra Nevada Corp. The company promised to release more test flight details, images and video on Monday (Nov. 13). A fully working version of the Dream Chaser could start making deliveries as soon as 2020, if all goes according to schedule.

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In 2014, the space agency announced it would only fund the Dream Chaser rival programs, SpaceX's Dragon and Boeing's CST-100 spacecraft, for Commercial Crew Transportation Capability (CCtCap).

It is about 9 meters long and is capable of transporting up to 5,500 kilos of cargo to the International Space Station.

SNC is one of the three private companies, which include Oribtal ATK and SpaceX, selected by the United States 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). Right now, two companies - SpaceX and Orbital ATK - hold contracts with NASA to periodically resupply the station through 2018.

This successful test, though, should keep Dream Chaser on track for a debut spaceflight within the next two years. The plan is for the Dream Chaser to fly a minimum of six missions to the ISS by 2024, says NASA. "The testing will validate the aerodynamic properties, flight software and control system performance of the Dream Chaser".

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