Sierra Nevada Corporation after glide test flight of Dream Chaser space plane


The Dream Chaser is being developed to carry cargo to and from the International Space Station without a crew aboard. Back in 2010, NASA awarded the company $20 million to develop the Dream Chaser as a crewed vehicle, and Sierra Nevada did a ton of tests over the next couples of years to prepare the spacecraft for carrying passengers.

In previous tests in 2017, a helicopter carried the Dream Chaser aloft but did not release it. 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. Unlike a capsule that might land in a remote area, Dream Chaser can quickly return experiments to waiting researchers. Sierra Nevada was picked for that round, along with SpaceX and Orbital ATK again.

SNC's lifting-body spacecraft has been in development for more than a decade and is created to deliver up to 5,500kg of pressurised and unpressurised cargo to the space station. The company won a Commercial Resupply Services 2 contract from NASA in 2016 to transport cargo to and from the ISS. The spacecraft will launch on Atlas V rockets built by the United Launch Alliance and make runway landings.

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Sierra Nevada Corporation confirmed that test flight was finished with success. The Dream Chaser used an onboard autonomous guidance computer to line up with the runway and land, deploying two main landing gear wheels and a front nose skid.

The spacecraft is still in its prototype phase so any data gathered from the test will help influence the final design of Dream Chaser.