Dream Chaser flight tests upcoming


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The competition heats up: According to Sierra Nevada officials, drop tests and glide tests of the engineering test ship of its Dream Chaser cargo spacecraft will begin this spring.

The partially-assembled test craft arrived at the California test site, located on Edwards Air Force Base, on Jan. 25. Technicians are adding the ship’s V-shaped tail fins and other equipment before kicking off ground and flight tests in the coming months, according to Mark Sirangelo, corporate vice president of Sierra Nevada’s space systems division. “We’ll do a series of ground tests,” Sirangelo said in a recent interview. “That will include towing the vehicle down the runway, and that allows us to see how it stops and how it moves, but it also allows us to test all the sensors on the vehicle because we can get it up to a high enough speed where that will happen.”

…After the ground tests, Sirangelo said the Dream Chaser test article will perform “captive carry” tests suspended under a helicopter, using the exercises to verify the movements of the craft’s aerosurfaces and navigation instrumentation. “When that’s done, we’ll move into a series of flight tests, where it will be dropped for approach and landing like the shuttle Enterprise,” Sirangelo said, referring to the vehicle NASA used for landing demonstrations in the 1970s before the first full-up space shuttle mission.

This all sounds great, but Sierra Nevada has been promising these test flights now for more than a year. It is time they got started already.

One comment

  • Edward

    Hardware delivery is a good sign.

    From the article: “‘Not only are we back in flight tests, but now it’s different in that we know that we have a contract,’ Sirangelo said. ‘We have flights coming up. We’ve got decades of flights in front of us, so it’s a different feeling.’

    I am sure that it is a feeling that this time they are doing something that will produce results. I hope they succeed, because lifting body reentry and runway landings may come back into vogue.

    Hopefully they will earn enough money from this contract to complete their manned version of Dream Chaser. That will make the previous work that they did for CCDev worthwhile, too.

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