Tuesday November 14, 2017 0 comments
SPARKS, Nev. -- Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) announced a successful atmospheric Free-Flight test of its Dream Chaser spacecraft, signaling the program taking another step closer to orbital operations.
The full-scale Dream Chaser test vehicle was lifted from a Chinook helicopter on Nov. 11, released and flew a pre-planned flight path ending with an autonomous landing at Edwards Air Force Base, California.
“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 VP of SNC’s Space System business area located in Louisville.
The first orbital vehicle is scheduled to go to the International Space Station as soon as 2020 for at least six missions as part of NASA’s Commercial Resupply Services 2 contract (CRS2).
The missions will supply astronauts with much needed supplies and technical support elements and enable the gentle return of scientific experiments.
The SNC test vehicle was originally developed under the Commercial Crew Integrated Capabilities agreement (CCiCap).
“The Dream Chaser spacecraft today has proven its atmospheric flight performance along with its return and landing capability,” said Sirangelo.
“This advances our program and the Dream Chaser towards orbital flight, while meeting the final milestone for our NASA CCiCap agreement and supporting milestone 5 of the CRS2 contract.”
SNC said the test verified and validated the performance of the Dream Chaser spacecraft in the final approach and landing phase of flight, modeling a successful return from the space station.
Most critically, by flying the same flight path that would be used returning from orbit, the free-flight proves the highly important landing attributes needed to bring back science and experiments from the space station, SNC said.
SNC and NASA will evaluate information from the test, including the Dream Chaser aerodynamic and integrated system performance from 12,324 feet altitude through main landing gear touchdown, nose landing gear touchdown and final rollout to wheel-stop on the runway.
The Edwards Air Force Base runway is very similar to the Kennedy Space Center Shuttle Landing Facility runway that Dream Chaser will land on for CRS2 flights.
“I’m so proud of the Dream Chaser team for their continued excellence,” said Faith Ozmen, SNC CEO.
“This spacecraft is the future and has the ability to change the way humans interact with space, and I couldn’t be happier with SNC’s dedicated team and the results of the test.”