Dream Chaser successfully completes glide flight

Dream Chaser successfully completes glide flight

Dream Chaser successfully completes glide flight

The Dream Chaser is only a quarter of the size that the Space Shuttle was. Sierra Nevada initially designed the Dream Chaser to carry astronauts, but the company has since reworked the design to be an autonomous cargo spaceplane.

Along with SpaceX and Orbital ATK, Sierra Nevada is under contract from NASA for as many as six cargo flights to the station.

Prototype spacecraft Dream Chaser has successfully completed its first glide test flight nearly two years after securing a multi-billion dollar contract from Nasa.

The compact space plane carries no crew, but will transport cargo to the International Space Station in the years ahead and conduct other missions in orbit around the Earth.

The company tweeted photos of the craft gliding to a landing at Edwards Air Force Base on Saturday.

"The lifting-body design gives Dream Chaser a higher lift-to-drag ratio and allows for greater cross-range landing capability, meaning the landing zone (or places where it can land) is greatly increased", said the company.

NASA said Saturday's unmanned approach and landing test was meant to "validate the aerodynamic properties, flight software and control system performance" of Dream Chaser. Sierra Nevada filed a protest, but the government's General Accounting Office upheld the decision. But previous year, NASA awarded a second round of contracts, in order to cover cargo shipments to the ISS from 2019 through 2024.

Sierra Nevada is developing Dream Chaser to deliver supplies to the space station for NASA under the agency's Commercial Resupply Services 2 (CRS-2) program. A fully working version of the Dream Chaser could start making deliveries as soon as 2020, if all goes according to schedule. It will lift off atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 booster from Cape Canaveral, and will touch down on the runway at the Shuttle Landing Facility at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

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