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Contracted Soviet-derived spaceplane Dream Chaser makes successful glide test

Contracted Soviet-derived spaceplane Dream Chaser makes successful glide test

Dream Chaser looks a lot like a miniature version of a NASA space shuttle.

During this week's test, a helicopter lifted the Dream Chaser spacecraft 12,400 feet, then dropped it and watched it land smoothly-a surprisingly low-tech way to mimic what happens when a supply ship comes back to Earth after visiting the International Space Station.

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 stunt, done at Edwards Air Force Base in Southern California, is known as a free-flight test and is meant to test out the vehicle's landing capabilities.

Below, photos and renderings of the new spacecraft. The plan is for the Dream Chaser to fly a minimum of six missions to the ISS by 2024, says NASA. 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 vehicle passed a preliminary design review earlier this year, meaning "there were no showstoppers along the way for us to go fly the vehicle", he said. The vehicle occupied the same hanger that Nasa used before for its Space Shuttle Enterprise in the late 1970s.

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It's an important milestone in the Dream Chaser's development, as Sierra Nevada readies the plane for spaceflight. "It is in our mind a signal that our program has moved another step closer to operations and orbital flight". Those missions will land at Kennedy Space Center. 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.

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 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 had a handsome flight and landing!

The free-flight test came just over two months after the company performed a tow test on the vehicle on August 29. The spacecraft will launch on Atlas V rockets built by the United Launch Alliance and make runway landings.

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