If Sierra Nevada is going to fulfill supply missions for the International Space Station and the United Nations, it'll have to prove that its Dream Chaser spacecraft is ready to fly... and it just took a big step in that direction.
Prototype spacecraft Dream Chaser has successfully completed its first glide test flight nearly two years after securing a multi-billion dollar contract from Nasa.
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On Saturday, private spaceflight company Sierra Nevada announced that its Dream Chaser spaceplane had successfully glided and landed on a runway after being released from a helicopter.
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).
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Below, photos and renderings of the new spacecraft. The company says it will release more information about the test Monday afternoon. It's an important milestone in the Dream Chaser's development, as Sierra Nevada readies the plane for spaceflight.
The previous one took place in October 2013 but was marred by a landing gear failure, which caused the Dream Chaser ETA to skid off the runway. But in 2014, NASA didn't pick the Dream Chaser to do crewed flights to the ISS, going with SpaceX and Boeing's proposed vehicles instead. 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.
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The spacecraft is still in its prototype phase so any data gathered from the test will help influence the final design of Dream Chaser.