Sierra Nevada to Drop Test Dream Chaser From WhiteKnightTwo

Aviation Week reports that Sierra Nevada Corporation is planning full-scale drop tests of its Dream Chaser shuttle from Scaled Composites’ WhiteKnightTwo mothership beginning in the second quarter of 2012. The tests from 45,000 feet are designed to “assess handling qualities as well as stability and control during an unpowered descent to a conventional runway landing.”

Other details revealed in the article:

  • Sierra Nevada is making progress on the vehicle’s hybrid engine, including three static test firings in one day
  • The engine will be powered by hydroxyl-terminated polybutadiene (HTPB) and nitrous oxide
  • Dream Chaser will have a cross-range capability of 1,700 km (1,000 miles) with landings feasible on a 7,000-f0ot runway.

Virgin Galactic — which paid Scaled Composites to develop WhiteKnightTwo — is a member of Sierra Nevada’s team for developing the Dream Chaser.