Sci-tech

New autonomous NASA space shuttle lands successful test flight

New autonomous NASA space shuttle lands successful test flight”

In a conference call with reporters, company officials said the November 11 flight of the Dream Chaser engineering test article at Edwards Air Force Base went as expected.

"The lifting-body design gives Dream Chaser a higher lift-to-drag ratio and allows for greater cross-range landing capability, meaning the landing zone (or places where it can land) is greatly increased", said the company. The flight occurred four years after the first glide test, which saw the otherwise-perfect flight end with the craft flipping over upon landing when the left landing gear failed to deploy.

"We are announcing today a successful atmospheric flight test of Dream Chaser, and it is in our minds a signal that our program has moved another step closer to operations and orbital flight", said Mark Sirangelo, corporate vice president of Sierra Nevada Corporation's Space Systems unit.

Sirangelo said the company is planning to build two orbital vehicles at the moment and each is designed for at least 15 flights each with a turnaround time of 60 days.

During this testing period, Sierra Nevada and NASA aren't actually working with a Dream Chaser spacecraft-instead, they're working with a fixed-wing version. Once up to speed, the spacecraft was released and its onboard systems slowed the vehicle to a stop.

A day after the tow test, a captive carry test was performed. Since then, Sierra Nevada has been modifying the Dream Chaser to just carry cargo. Beat me to Space X and Boeing.

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. The Dream Chaser from Sierra Nevada offers more reliable landings than the other two now offer.

Along with SpaceX and Orbital ATK, Sierra Nevada is under contract from NASA for as many as six cargo flights to the station. 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.

Two other companies, SpaceX and Orbital ATK, will use their own spacecraft to fly delivery missions for NASA as part of the CRS-2 program. It will sport an expandable cargo module at the rear that will feature solar panels and a docking mechanism.



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