Published: Tue, November 14, 2017
Science | By Eileen Rhodes

Dream Chaser Space Plane Passes Landing Test

Dream Chaser Space Plane Passes Landing Test

Dream Chaser made a landing at a US air force base Edwards, which is located in the Mojave desert in California.

Sierra Nevada Corporation is developing the Dream Chaser for the last ten years, together with NASA, the latter then singled out to develop more than 125 million dollars. The reusable craft is considered flawless for this task since it's smoother return will ensure the preservation of precious scientific specimens on board. The craft has been in the works for more than 10 years and in 2016 the company was awarded the contract to transport cargo to and from the ISS for NASA. It's called a lifting body plane due to the lift being created by the body of the vehicle rather than the wings. The device was tested in free flight mode and landing. The flexible aircraft can also be rapidly turned around and reused for future flights. Right now, two companies - SpaceX and Orbital ATK - hold contracts with NASA to periodically resupply the station through 2018. Sierra Nevada representatives announced on Twitter Saturday. The company expects to start cargo missions sometime in 2020. It is being created to land on runways and then allow crews to access the materials flown back to Earth soon after landing. 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.

Originally, Sierra Nevada had hoped its Dream Chaser would carry astronauts, and not just cargo, to the ISS.

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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 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.

The testing showcased the Dream Chaser's aerodynamic properties as well as flight software and control system performance.

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