Sierra Nevada Space Plane Flies for 1st time, Has Rough Landing

Image Sierra Nevada Space Systems flew and landed its Dream Chaser space plane for the first time Saturday in California, gliding it down for a landing despite trouble with the landing gear on touchdown. The Dream Chaser was carried aloft by a helicopter for Saturday’s test. Accounts from the test flight indicated problems with the left landing gear caused damage when the unmanned craft landed, but how significant the issue was isn’t clear. Nevertheless, the Louisville-based division of Sierra Nevada Corp. counted the Dream Chasers computer-controlled, autonomous test flight as a success.

“The vehicle adhered to the design flight trajectory throughout the flight profile. Less than a minute later, Dream Chaser smoothly flared and touched down on Edwards Air Force Base’s Runway 22L right on centerline,” the company said in a statement Monday.

Sierra Nevada Space Systems plans to discuss the test flight in a media conference call Tuesday morning.

The company has been designing the Dream Chaser for nine years as a re-usable space taxi capable of taking as many as seven astronauts to the International Space Station.

Dream Chaser would ride atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket for space missions and be piloted back to Earth for a runway landing, much like the now-retired space shuttle that NASA used for years.

Sierra Nevada Space Systems has won NASA grants worth as much as $337.5 million toward Dream Chaser development. The craft is one of three NASA has funded in competition to develop space vehicles that can replace the Space Shuttle fleet.

Sierra Nevada Corp., based in Sparks, Nev., has owned the space division since a 2008 merger in which it bought SpaceDev, in Louisville and Poway, Calif., and blended it with other aerospace manufacturing businesses it had purchased.  (Greg Avery - Reporter- Denver Business Journal)
Last modified onSaturday, 06 May 2017 10:07