CAMBRIDGE, MA—Sierra Nevada Corporation conducted a successful glide and landing test flight with its Dream Chaser spacecraft on Saturday, November 11. The unmanned craft is designed to launch atop a rocket and shuttle cargo and supplies to the International Space Station, and then return to land on a runway with experiments and samples from the space station.
The spaceplane was carried to an altitude of 12,324 feet by a helicopter above the Mojave Desert and then dropped to glide to the ground and land on a runway at Edwards Air Force Base. Unlike other spacecraft, Dream Chaser has wings and wheels that allow it to land on a runway.
Saturday’s test helped to validate elements of the flight software and the flight control computer designed by Draper, and the spacecraft’s handling and performance characteristics during landing. For the Dream Chaser, Draper is developing a four-channel fault-tolerant flight computer equipped with redundancy management, guidance and navigation control, and fault detection and isolation.
Draper and Sierra Nevada Corporation have worked together for more than 10 years. Recently the two companies signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) that sets a course for them to jointly explore development of space technologies, applications and missions related to SNC’s Dream Chaser spacecraft.
In its initial mission, the spacecraft will deliver NASA cargo to the International Space Station under NASA’s Commercial Resupply Services (CRS2) contract. The company is under contract from NASA to fly its Dream Chaser spaceplane to the International Space Station around 2020.