Space Commerce

Dream Chaser Completes a Full-scale Captive-carry Test

By Marc Boucher
Press Release
August 23, 2013
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Dream Chaser Completes a Full-scale Captive-carry Test
Dream Chaser.
Sierra Nevada Corporation

Today Sierra Nevada Corporation’s (SNC) Dream Chaser spacecraft successfully completed a full-scale captive-carry test. The test in which the Dream Chaser was carried under an Erickson Air-Crane helicopter was conducted at NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center in Edwards, Calif.
The captive-carry test was performed in order to test and validate several of the Dream Chaser systems and sub-systems prior to the upcoming free-flight test. The software tested included: flight computer; guidance, navigation and control; aero surfaces; and the landing gear and nose skid, which was deployed during flight. In May 2012, SNC performed a similar, but less extensive, captive-carry test in Broomfield, Colo., under the Commercial Crew Development 2 (CCDev2) agreement with NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.

“Today is the first time we have flown a fully functional Dream Chaser spacecraft, and we are very pleased with the results,” said Mark Sirangelo, corporate vice president and head of SNC’s Space Systems. “Our team represents the very best in collaboration between industry and government. We have worked closely with NASA, Dryden and the Air Force to reach this important milestone in our flight test program. We will continue to work together to prepare for the approach-and-landing free-flight test. We look forward to seeing Dream Chaser land on the same runway as the space shuttle orbiters once did as we move forward in the development of the next-generation crew transportation vehicle.”

The captive-carry test is just one in a series of tests completed at Dryden. To date, the Dream Chaser team has completed ground taxi- and tow-tests, evaluated the performance of the main landing gear and completed a flight test readiness review. All systems have been verified and the Dream Chaser flight vehicle will undergo final preparations for the upcoming approach-and-landing test (ALT) scheduled for fall 2013.

“It’s great to see real American-made hardware taking flight right here in the U.S.,” said Ed Mango, CCP manager. “This is just the start of an exciting flight test campaign for SNC’s Dream Chaser at Dryden.”

SNC is one of three companies funded under NASA’s Commercial Crew Integrated Capability (CCiCap) initiative to develop a next-generation crew transportation vehicle and the only reusable, lifting body vehicle with runway landing capability. The Dream Chaser space vehicle 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.

SpaceRef co-founder, entrepreneur, writer, podcaster, nature lover and deep thinker.