Dream Chaser Spacecraft To Conduct Missions To The ISS

Muriel Hammond
November 15, 2017

On Saturday, it was dropped from a helicopter over the Mojave Desert in California, and then glided to a runway at Edwards Air Force Base.

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.

The free flight lasted 60 seconds, reaching a maximum speed of 330 miles per hour (531 kph) and touching down at the targeted spot on the runway at a speed of 191 miles per hour (307 kph).

Prototype spacecraft Dream Chaser has successfully completed its first glide test flight nearly two years after securing a multi-billion dollar contract from Nasa.

The company performed a tow test on the vehicle a little bit over two months before the free-flight test.

The Dream Chaser is only a quarter of the size that the Space Shuttle was.

SNC brought Dream Chaser to the Armstrong Flight Research Center in January 2017 in preparation for the free-flight test.

Dream Chaser is a derivative project from NASA's 1990s HL-20 Launch System, which in turn was inspired by the Soviet Spiral program, a series of spacecraft developed for space warfare and orbital-glide bombing since the late 1960s. When it would reach that speed, the Dream Chaser was released allowing its onboard systems to slow the vehicle to a stop. This was essentially a dry run for the glide test in order to gain data and calibrate instruments.

The United States has relied on private contracts as well as the Russian Space Agency Roscosmos to get its astronauts and supplies to the ISS since the Space Shuttle was taken out of service in 2011. In a 2014 downselect from three providers to two, Dream Chaser was not chosen. He said, however, that Dream Chaser will be able to be launched on a variety of launch vehicles, not only Atlas V, which is due to be phased out in the early 2020s. Under the CRS-2 contract, SNC, as well as the other companies, would send at least six cargo missions to the outpost. It will sport an expandable cargo module at the rear that will feature solar panels and a docking mechanism. But previous year, NASA awarded a second round of contracts, in order to cover cargo shipments to the ISS from 2019 through 2024. "It is in our mind a signal that our program has moved another step closer to operations and orbital flight".

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