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

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

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

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.

The unmanned aircraft made a soft landing at Edwards Base last Saturday during the free flight test at the Armstrong Flight Research Center of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). The company promised to release more test flight details, images and video on Monday (Nov. 13).

The test had been long-planned but not publicly announced, according to Space Flight Now. He says that the company will carry out the shipment of cargo to the ISS, for the first time this will be done in 2020.

The spaceplane was carried to an altitude of 10,000 feet by a Boeing Vertol 234-UT heavy-lift helicopter, the civilian version of the Army's CH-47 Chinook, and then dropped to glide to the ground and land on a runway at Edwards Air Force Base. The company also has a contract with the United Nations to launch payloads into orbit on the Dream Chaser. The flight was a final funded milestone in the Space Act Agreement that Sierra Nevada Corporation has with NASA as part of the agency's Commercial Crew Integrated Capability effort. 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.

The Dream Chaser was redesigned for cargo missions and in 2016, NASA announced that Sierra Nevada (along with SpaceX and a new company named Orbital ATK) would all be used for cargo missions to the space station in the upcoming future. The spacecraft will launch on Atlas V rockets built by the United Launch Alliance and make runway landings.

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