The Dream Chaser Takes Flight and Seems to Ace Its Landing

The Dream Chaser Takes Flight and Seems to Ace Its Landing

The success of the flight test likely marks the last milestone for a $227.5 million contract awarded to Sierra Nevada in 2012 for NASA's Commercial Crew Integrated Capability (CCiCap) program.

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

NASA's Armstrong Flight Research Center said in November 11 statement that the glide flight "verified and validated the performance of the Dream Chaser in the critical final approach and landing phase of flight".

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.

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The company tweeted photos of the craft gliding to a landing at Edwards Air Force Base on Saturday. Right now, two companies - SpaceX and Orbital ATK - hold contracts with NASA to periodically resupply the station through 2018. They're created to be used 15 or more times and have autonomous launch, flight and landing capabilities, according to Sierra Nevada Corp.

Sierra Nevada's Dream Chaser spaceplane safely glided to the Edwards Air Force Base runway Saturday after being dropped from a helicopter in a free-flight test.

There was no problem with the landing gear, unlike the glide test four years ago when the left wheel never lowered and the Dream Chaser skidded off the runway. It is being created to land on runways and then allow crews to access the materials flown back to Earth soon after landing. A fully working version of the Dream Chaser could start making deliveries as soon as 2020, if all goes according to schedule. The Dream Chaser, however, which is meant to launch on top of an Atlas V rocket, glides down to Earth like a plane after reentering the atmosphere, landing horizontally on a runway. The Dream Chaser from Sierra Nevada offers more reliable landings than the other two now offer.