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Contracted Soviet-derived spaceplane Dream Chaser makes successful glide test

13 November 2017

Dream Chaser passed one form most important glide test flights in 2017.

This is significant for the aerospace manufacturer since its last free-flight test in 2013 resulted in minor damage when a problem with the deployment of its left landing gear caused the plane to skid 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". Its on-board guidance system lined up the spacecraft with the runway during the steep final approach.

The Dream Chaser is being developed to carry cargo to and from the International Space Station without a crew aboard.

The Dream Chaser is a fairly unique vehicle compared to the other two companies' spacecraft.

"The Dream Chaser had a handsome flight and landing!" It was based on a secret Soviet design from the Cold War that turned into NASA's HL-20, which never made it into space. In 2016, Sierra Nevada was awarded a new contract. Sierra Nevada got funding in 2012 under the CCiCap program, which paid out certain amounts as the spacecraft successfully completed several milestones.

Dream Chaser is a space apparatus which can be used many times. Sierra Nevada filed a protest, but the government's General Accounting Office upheld the decision. Sierra Nevada initially designed the Dream Chaser to carry astronauts, but the company has since reworked the design to be an autonomous cargo spaceplane.

The first actual spaceflight of the Dream Chaser is planned for 2020. Future orbital vehicles will launch on Atlas V rockets from United Launch Alliance, and Lockheed Martin has partnered with Sierra Nevada to develop the composite structural shell of the orbital-class vehicles.

Contracted Soviet-derived spaceplane Dream Chaser makes successful glide test