With the successful glide test completed last weekend, Dream Chaser spacecraft is inching closer to its goal of delivering cargo to the International Space Station. The reusable Dream Chaser is a cheaper and smaller version of the retired NASA's space shuttle orbiter.
Successful Glide Test
On Nov. 11, Sierra Nevada Corp.'s (SNC) Dream Chaser spacecraft's successfully completed its free-flight test at NASA's Armstrong Flight Research Center. The glide test showed that the spacecraft meets the expected models for a trip to the ISS. Since January, Dream Chaser has been undergoing several tests in preparation for the free-flight test.
A Columbia Helicopter Model 234-UT lifted the full-scale, unmanned Dream Chaser before its release and completion of a pre-planned flight path that concluded with a landing on Runway 22L of the Edwards Air Force Base in California. During the spacecraft's final approach and landing phase, Dream Chaser was able to fly through the same flight path used when returning from orbit.
"The Dream Chaser flight test demonstrated excellent performance of the spacecraft's aerodynamic design and the data shows that we are firmly on the path for safe, reliable orbital flight," said Mark Sirangelo, corporate vice president of SNC's Space System business area.
The atmospheric flight performance of Dream Chaser showed the advancement of the program that created the spacecraft, which allows them to inch closer toward the achievement of their final milestone for the NASA CCiCap agreement.
Advancing Orbital Flight
The flight was a huge milestone for the space act agreement of Sierra Nevada with NASA's Commercial Crew Program. NASA Commercial Crew Program Deputy Manager Steve Stich shared their excitement after the test.
"The Dream Chaser team has done an amazing job preparing for and executing this test and the Commercial Crew Program has been with them along the way," said Stich. "The Flight computers and avionics systems are the same as the orbital vehicle so this test will pave the way for future landings for the International Space Station missions."
Mike Lee, NASA Commercial Crew Program space act agreement partner manager, shared that the achievement of Dream Chaser flight is a reflection of advancing orbital flights, particularly the re-entry of a spacecraft from orbital missions.
Both NASA and SNC will review vital information gathered during the test. They will look at the spacecraft's aerodynamic and integrated system performance from an altitude of 12,400 feet.
SNC shared the success of the flight test on their Twitter page last Saturday:
SNC is proud to announce the Dream Chaser® spacecraft had a successful free-flight test today @EdwardsAFB, with support of @NASAArmstrong. The Dream Chaser had a beautiful flight and landing! pic.twitter.com/lAn0n7FPsg
— Sierra Nevada Corp (@SierraNevCorp) November 12, 2017