Space

October 31, 2013

Dream Chaser landing gear failure spoils first free flight test

dream-chaser2

The first glitch in a successful program to qualify the Sierra Nevada Dream Chaser as a Space Station crew taxi vehicle happened March 26.

The Dream Chaser engineering test article was released from an Erickson Sky Crane helicopter at 12,500 feet.

The unmanned prototype followed its automated flight programs perfectly, first diving at 50 degrees, then going to gentle glide slope. It tracked to the landing strip centerline perfectly. But when the landing carriage was commanded down, the left landing gear was slow coming down. Despite the software attempting to hold the left wing up, it scraped the ground. Then in a cloud of dust Dream Chaser veered off the runway and ended in a vertical position.

While the on-board software did its best to hold up the left wing as long as possible after the Dream Chaser prototype’s successful touch down on the centre line of the runway, the unsupported wing did eventually drop to the ground. The result was that the Dream Chaser prototype skidded off the runway in a cloud of dust and sand, ending up after this in an upright position. It is likely that there was a mechanical failure.

The glide flight lasted approximately one minute. The 50 degrees down angle was held for about 10 seconds, both to gain speed and to match the approach that the full space-capable version of the Dream Chaser would perform. At 200 feet altitude, the on-board ground radar altimeter released the F-5 jet-fighter sourced undercarriage. The final approach lasted approximately 20 seconds at a speed of roughly 160-162 kt.

The testing is being conducted jointly by NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center and Sierra Nevada under a Space Act Agreement. Testing is at Edwards AFB.

dream-chaser1

There were no injuries associated with the accident, and it was reported that there had been no significant damage to the crew compartment, and that any crew would have survived such an event. Before the free flight test, there have been a series of ground tow testing, and captive carry tests of aerodynamic characteristics without incidents.

Sierra Nevada says that Dream Chaser remains on target to make its first unmanned spaceflight in 2016 on top of an Atlas V launch vehicle, with the first piloted orbital spaceflight following in mid-to-late 2017.




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 
Lockheed Martin photograph

Fourth Lockheed Martin-built MUOS secure comm satellite shipped

Lockheed Martin photograph On June 28, MUOS-4, the next satellite scheduled to join the U.S. Navy’s Mobile User Objective System secure communications network, shipped to Cape Canaveral from Lockheed Martin’s satellite manu...
 
 
Photograph courtesy of NASA/CXC/U. Wisconsin/S. Heinz

NASA’s Chandra captures x-ray echoes pinpointing distant neutron star

Photograph courtesy of NASA/CXC/U. Wisconsin/S. Heinz A light echo in X-rays detected by NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory has provided a rare opportunity to precisely measure the distance to an object on the other side of the...
 
 

Veteran NASA spacecraft nears 60,000th lap around Mars

NASA’s Mars Odyssey spacecraft will reach a major milestone June 23, when it completes its 60,000th orbit since arriving at the Red Planet in 2001. Named after the bestselling novel “2001: A Space Odyssey” by Arthur C. Clarke, Odyssey began orbiting Mars almost 14 years ago, on Oct. 23, 2001. On Dec. 15, 2010, it...
 

 
nasa-study

NASA selects six wild ideas in aviation for further study

NASA has selected six proposals to study transformative ideas that might expand what’s possible in aviation, shifting the boundary between fantastic and futuristic. During a day-long meeting in April, 17 teams pitched the...
 
 
NASA photograph

NASA signs agreement with Space Florida to operate historic landing facility

NASA photograph This aerial photo of the runway at the KSC Shuttle Landing Facility looks north. Longer and wider than most commercial runways, it is 15,000 feet long, with 1,000-foot paved overruns on each end, and 300 feet wi...
 
 

All systems go for NASA’s mission to Jupiter moon Europa

Beyond Earth, Jupiter’s moon Europa is considered one of the most promising places in the solar system to search for signs of present-day life, and a new NASA mission to explore this potential is moving forward from concept review to development. NASA’s mission concept — to conduct a detailed survey of Europa and investigate its...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>