Dream Chaser space plane successfully completes test flight

Dream Chaser landing

During the last two years, SNC has worked to reconfigure the Dream Chaser to make it cargo-only spacecraft, after losing out as entrants in Nasa's commercial crew competition to build spacecraft that would see humans travel to low-Earth orbit and back.

The Dream Chaser prototype spacecraft passed a big test yesterday, gliding to a successful landing on a runway in the Mojave Desert after it was dropped from a helicopter. The stunt, done at Edwards Air Force Base in Southern California, is known as a free-flight test and is meant to test out the vehicle's landing capabilities. The sleek but stubby black and white craft rolled to a stop at the same site where NASA's full-sized shuttles sometimes landed, looking very much like a "baby brother" to the retired orbiters. In 2016, Sierra Nevada was awarded a new contract. The unmanned test landing marks a major milestone for the Sierra Nevada Corporation, after a similar 2013 flight ended in a crash after the landing gear failed to deploy correctly. But a year ago, NASA awarded a second round of contracts, in order to cover cargo shipments to the ISS from 2019 through 2024. The Dream Chaser spacecraft developed specifically for bringing supplied to the ISS is in the testing stages and passed a test for approach and landing on Saturday.

The Dream Chaser is only a quarter of the size that the Space Shuttle was. (5,500 kilograms) of cargo to the International Space Station.

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. The Dream Chaser from Sierra Nevada offers more reliable landings than the other two now offer. A first flight of the Dream Chaser Cargo System is scheduled for 2020, with a minimum of six flights through 2024 under the contract.

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