Science and Exploration

Dream Chaser Completes Ground Tow Tests

By Marc Boucher
Status Report
August 14, 2013
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Dream Chaser Completes Ground Tow Tests
Dream Chaser completes ground tow tests.
Sierra Nevada/Ken Ulbrich

Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) announces the completion of the Dream Chaser Space System tow testing at NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center in Edwards, Calif. The ground tow tests were conducted in preparation for the upcoming approach and landing test scheduled for the third quarter 2013.
The tow tests were performed in preparation for pre-negotiated, paid-for-performance milestones with NASA’s Commercial Crew Program (CCP), which is facilitating U.S. companies’ development of spacecraft and rockets that can launch from American soil.

“We are very excited to complete this series of tests and achieve another critical milestone for our Dream Chaser flight test program,” said Steve Lindsey, SNC’s Space Systems senior director of programs and former NASA astronaut. “Watching Dream Chaser undergo tow testing on the same runway where we landed several space shuttle orbiters brings a great amount of pride to our Dream Chaser team. We are another step closer to restoring America’s capability to return U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station.”

The Dream Chaser performed four sets of sequential low and high speed ground tow tests over the course of two months. The test sequences were completed at 10 mph, 20 mph, 40 mph and 60 mph to verify integrated spacecraft performance under landing and rollout conditions. The systems verifications included: flight computer and flight software, instrumentation, guidance, navigation, and control, braking and steering performance, flight control surface actuation, mission control and remote commanding capability, and landing gear dynamics.

The tests ensure the Dream Chaser would operate properly upon landing and that the spacecraft will come to a controlled stop after touching down on the runway. SNC’s Dream Chaser team is now preparing for the next CCP tests including a captive carry test, and an approach and landing free flight test, all of which are scheduled for later this fall.

SNC is one of three companies funded under the Commercial Crew Integrated Capability initiative to develop a next generation crew transportation vehicle. The Dream Chaser is on the forefront of the commercial human spaceflight industry, offering safe, reliable, and cost effective crew and critical cargo transportation to low-Earth orbit.

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