Dream Chaser test vehicle undergoing tow tests


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Capitalism in space: Sierra Nevada’s Dream Chaser engineering test vehicle underwent tow tests today.

Rolling on two main landing gear wheels and a nose skid, the Dream Chaser traveled down a runway Monday in Sierra Nevada’s latest tow test at Edwards Air Force Base, which is co-located with NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center. Once cut free from its tow vehicle, the Dream Chaser slowed to a stop, allowing engineers to gather data on the craft’s brakes, steering system, and guidance, navigation and control sensors that will line the spaceplane up for landing, according to Eric Cain, a Sierra Nevada engineer who described Monday’s test on the company’s Twitter account.

More tests are planned in the coming months, including additional tow tests and a “captive carry” flight with the Dream Chaser suspended under a helicopter.

This is the same engineering test vehicle that underwent tow tests and flew successfully once, though its landing gear failed up upon touchdown. They have replaced that landing gear, which was borrowed from the Air Force and was never intended to be the spacecraft’s wheels. Thus, they need to go through these tests all over.

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