Space

May 31, 2012

Sierra Nevada’s Dream Chaser hits captive-carry milestone

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This drawing illustrates Sierra Nevada’s Dream Chaser space-access vehicle attached to the International Space Station.

Future free flight tests of Sierra Nevada Corporation’s Space Systems division’s Dream Chaser space-access vehicle at NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center, Edwards, Calif., have moved a step closer, following the firm’s completion of a captive-carry flight test of its full-scale prototype orbital crew vehicle May 29 in Colorado.

During the risk-reduction captive-carry test, the Dream Chaser was carried aloft under a large helicopter near the Rocky Mountain Metropolitan Airport in Jefferson County, Colo., to verify proper aerodynamic flight performance that will aid planned free-flight testing at NASA Dryden later this year.

The captive carry flight followed by just a few days the completion of four other development milestones for the Dream Chaser vehicle being developed by SNC Space Systems under NASA’s Commercial Crew Development Round 2 program.

Sierra Nevada Space Systems’ Dream Chaser prototype space-access vehicle dangled from a sling suspended from a large helicopter during a captive-carry flight test May 29.

The four Milestones included: Separation System Testing, Flight Article Main Landing Gear Drop Testing, Captive Carry Interface Testing, and a Captive Carry Flight Test Readiness Review.

Following the Captive Carry Flight Test Readiness Review May 24, SNC management approved proceeding with the first full-scale flight test of the Dream Chaser prototype flight test vehicle. During this risk reduction captive-carry test, the Dream Chaser was carried aloft under an Erickson Air-Crane helicopter to verify proper aerodynamic flight performance that will aid future free-flight testing.

SNC’s Dream Chaser, whose design is based on the NASA HL-20 lifting body design of the 1960s, is tentatively scheduled to be transported to NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center at Edwards Air Force Base in Southern California in late August for its free-flight approach and landing tests that are tentatively slated to begin in early September.




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