The Dream Chaser Takes Flight and Seems to Ace Its Landing

Sierra Nevada Corp’s Dream Chaser lands on Edwards Air Force Base in California. Spacecraft went through preparations for flight at NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center. Credits NASA  Carla Thomas

On Saturday, it was dropped from a helicopter over the Mojave Desert in California, and then glided to a runway at Edwards Air Force Base.

Dream Chaser looks a lot like a miniature version of a NASA space shuttle. The reusable craft is considered ideal for this task since it's smoother return will ensure the preservation of precious scientific specimens on board.

Dream Chaser is a space apparatus which can be used many times.

The compact space plane carries no crew, but will transport cargo to the International Space Station in the years ahead and conduct other missions in orbit around the Earth.

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The Sierra Nevada Corp. posted photos from the free-flight test on Saturday to Twitter. The company promised to release more test flight details, images and video on Monday (Nov. 13). In 2016, Sierra Nevada was awarded a new contract.

There was no problem with the landing gear, unlike the glide test four years ago when the left wheel never lowered and the Dream Chaser skidded off the runway.

According to Nasa, the flight test "helped advance the vehicle under Nasa's Commercial Crew Program space act agreement, as well as helped prepare the vehicle for service under Nasa's Commercial Resupply Services 2 program". Sierra Nevada's six-mission contract calls for Dream Chaser to start delivering cargo to the space station in 2019.

The flight was the second free flight of the Dream Chaser. Under that agreement, Sierra Nevada will fly at least six cargo delivery missions for NASA by 2024, agency officials said in the November 11 statement. It will lift off atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 booster from Cape Canaveral, and will touch down on the runway at the Shuttle Landing Facility at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. "The testing will validate the aerodynamic properties, flight software and control system performance of the Dream Chaser".

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