Contracted Soviet-derived spaceplane Dream Chaser makes successful glide test

The Dream Chaser rolls out on Runway 22L at Edwards Air Force Base California. Credit NASA

The Dream Chaser rolls out on Runway 22L at Edwards Air Force Base California. Credit NASA

The company is under contract from NASA to fly its Dream Chaser spaceplane to the International Space Station by 2020.

The Dream Chaser spacecraft made a "beautiful flight and landing" during a second glide test on Saturday, according to its producer, Sierra Nevada Corporation.

Executives with Sierra Nevada Corporation said November 13 they believed the recent glide flight of a Dream Chaser test article was successful and they won't need to fly that vehicle again.

The craft then made a completely autonomous descent and landing, rolling out about 4,200 feet on an Edwards Air Force Base runway in the high desert north of Los Angeles.

More Sunshine, Warmer Monday
But despite the warm temperatures, the record in Denver is 75 degrees - set back in 1999, so we won't come close to that. Highs on Saturday climb into the mid to upper 50s, but behind the front on Sunday we'll only reach the mid 40s.

Below, photos and renderings of the new spacecraft. NASA promised to purchase at least six cargo flights each from SpaceX, Orbital ATK, and SNC. But past year, NASA awarded a second round of contracts, in order to cover cargo shipments to the ISS from 2019 through 2024. This landing seems to have gone much better, based on the pictures that Sierra Nevada released, though the company hasn't given much additional information. The company is still analyzing the data from the most recent test, but SNC Corporate Vice President for Space Systems Mark Sirangelo said today that everything is looking good and there are no plans to fly this vehicle again. The vehicle occupied the same hanger that Nasa used before for its Space Shuttle Enterprise in the late 1970s. "This advances our program and the Dream Chaser towards orbital flight, while meeting the final milestone for our NASA CCiCap [Commercial Crew integrated Capability] agreement and supporting milestone 5 of the CRS-2 contract".

For now, Sierra Nevada Corporation is working on the cargo version of Dream Chaser to serve a NASA Commercial Resupply Services 2 contract it received in 2016. It's also designed with a "lifting body" meaning it can land nearly anywhere. The test on Saturday will inform the final design. Dream Chaser, which looks like a smaller version of the Space Shuttle, would initially be launched on an Atlas V rocket. The first launch of the laboratory version of the vehicle is expected in 2021, Sirangelo said, pointing out that the company has received an "overwhelming" response to its call for science proposals issued in September at the International Astronautical Congress in Australia.

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

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