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An outline of Dream Chaser’s test flight schedule for the next three years, leading to its first crewed flight in 2017.
The article makes a big deal about Sierra Nevada’s completion of a NASA paperwork milestone, but to me the aggressive flight schedule is more interesting, including news that the engineering vehicle used in the test flight in October was not damaged in landing so badly it could no longer be used.
The Dream Chaser Engineering Test Article (ETA) has since arrived back in her home port in Colorado, following her eventful exploits in California. Despite a red-faced landing for the baby orbiter, she earned her wings during an automated free flight over the famous Edwards Air Force Base, a flight that was perfectly executed, per the objectives of the Commercial Crew check list. The vehicle will now enjoy a period of outfitting and upgrading, preparing her for one or two more flights – listed as ALT-1 and ALT-2 – beginning later this year. Both will once again be conducted at the Dryden Flight Research Center in California.
The ETA will never taste the coldness of space, with her role not unlike that of Shuttle Enterprise, a pathfinder vehicle used to safely refine the final part of the mission for the vehicles that will follow in her footsteps. The Dream Chaser that will launch into orbit will be called the Orbital Test Vehicle (OTV), which is currently undergoing construction at the Michoud Assembly Facility (MAF). Debuting atop of the United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V, the OFT-1 (Orbital Test Flight -1) is scheduled to take place in late 2016. This flight will be automated, testing the entire Dream Chaser system, prior to the crewed OFT-2 mission in early 2017. [emphasis mine]
I think I will up my bet from yesterday. I am now willing to bet that all of the commercial crew spacecraft chosen by NASA to complete construction will fly their privately built manned spacecraft with crew before NASA flies its first unmanned test flight of Orion/SLS.